“Alarms go off when I enter the building,” says M.I.A. late on “Matangi,” her fourth album and second (following 2010’s “Maya”) drawing its title from her own name. But while the English/Sri Lankan rapper still likes to think of herself as a provocateuse, she perhaps recognizes that there are limits to how far that can take you as a recording career progresses. That could explain why the middle of “Matangi,” including the masochistic grind of “Bad Girls” and the hard dancehall influence of “Double Bubble Trouble,” contains uncommonly straightforward songs that would’ve fit easily on Rihanna’s last two albums. M.I.A. doesn’t stint on the bangers, though; “Only 1 U” rides a clattering, metallic rhythm and a boxing-bell clang, the tracks of “Bring the Noize” sound like they’re turning back on themselves and “Come Walk With Me” is a fair approximation of girl-group pop until the beat freaks out midway through. And leave it to someone named after a Hindu goddess to challenge, in “Y.A.L.A.,” the hip-hop mantra that you only live once. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Bring the Noize”Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.