Yet while Brand has become an icon of radicalism after a ten-minute TV interview, there’s something about pop provocateur Maya Arulpragasam that leads her to be written off as a kook and an oddball. If you’re one such sceptic, I urge you to reconsider and give ‘Matangi’ a listen.
Sonically, it’s as animated and singular as she’s ever been. Kanye may have trumpeted ‘Yeezus’ as a milestone in music, but he was only really drawing himself level with a woman who’s been stirring genres together in a fiery cauldron for years.
From the rousing single ‘Bad Girls’ to more gentle moments (like the new-wave calypso of ‘Lights’), there are joyful lyrical reminders that MIA isn’t scared to be contemporary either. She calls time on the trend of YOLO – cheekily reinventing the acronym as ‘you always live again’ – on ‘YALA’. It’s easy to scoff, but casual mentions of sign-of-the-times tidbits (Instagram, drones, Twitter, offshore banking) make ‘Matangi’ sound a damn sight more like it was made in 2013 than most things you’ll hear this year.
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In case you didn’t know, Scandinavia is cool right now. The food, the fashion, the facial hair – plus the Vikings have invaded the British Museum. All we need next is a healthy economy, a reliable public transport system and a sense of social justice, and London will be indistinguishable from Oslo. Meanwhile in Hackney, there’s yet another Northern European-inspired incursion. Or apparently so: the website claims this bar-restaurant-club draws on ‘a Nordic aesthetic’, although it’s not immediately obvious within. Oslo occupies the previously deserted old Hackney rail station and takes on a bit of a railway theme with its luggage-rack lighting, plus there are industrial stylings that give the whole place a Janet Jackson ‘Rhythm Nation’ video feel. The restaurant part is rather fancy, its food incorporating a few of the forages, pickles, jellies and marinations of New Nordic cooking. The kitchen is regularly given over to guest chefs, and you have to book – it’s always heaving. Eat in the bar and the food is more straightforward. Where once the standard snack in pubs was a toastie, sausage roll or pork pie, now it’s the slider or fried chicken. These are served alongside frankly obscene portions of chips, slathered with the likes of cured bacon fat and bacon salt, or braised oxtail, gravy and cheese. There’s a commendable range of craft beers from the vicinity, including a couple from Five Points Brewing just five minutes up the road at the Downs.Head upstairs and you’ll find a
Venue says: “Join us every Thursday night until late for Soul Soul Soul – a night of vinyl appreciation with DJs playing soul, funk, disco and more.”