Words About Music
Sia “1000 Forms of Fear”
Australian pop singer Sia sounds like a mix between Lorde, Adele, and Lily Allen. Except, she was around before any of us knew any of those names. With her sixth album, Sia brings a darker sound to the table in a time where all of the best pop singers incorporate dark instrumentals and emotions into their music. As much as I expected myself to be bored by this album, it’s actually rather enjoyable. It’s sexy, well produced, and impeccably well performed. Sia has an excellent voice and a vocal accent that’s hard to place. She also experiments with several musical styles, including trip-hop, R&B, and alternative rock. Guests range from The Strokes’ Nick Valensi to Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd. It’s one of the year’s most interesting pop albums.
It seems that “1000 Forms of Fear” deals with a constantly trodden trope, conquering whatever’s holding you back. In this case: fear and depression. Sia’s sudden fame a few years ago led her to addiction, which led to 12-step rehabilitation. You can hear that Sia worked hard to make her way up from rock bottom, and “1000 Forms of Fear” is musical proof. She sings about dealing with her emotional downfall, heartbreak, and giving up. It’s an album about conquering fear that actually has substance. Take notes, Katy Perry. You can hear the pain here. It’s cathartic.
While I don’t think Sia is exactly a huge pop artist in the States (I’d never heard of her before this album came out), I do hope “1000 Forms of Fear” cements her as a pop juggernaut, even late into her 30s. However, I must opine what is my constant gripe with pop music in general. It’s almost too consistent. It’s fine when musicians allot an entire album to a certain theme or emotion or concept, but when every song sounds nearly the same it can tiring. “1000 Forms of Fear” is nothing revolutionary, mind you. It’s a pop-R&B album with a few examples of experimentation, and it’s decent. It does have its filler tracks though, especially the nearly 7-minute closing track “Dressed in Black.”
In fact, the most interesting thing about the album is how Sia is promoting it: by refusing to show her face. During her TV show performances she has had actresses lip-sync and dance to the song while she sang it with her back to the audience. It almost resembles The Knife’s 2013-2014 tour in support for “Shaking the Habitual.” It’s pretty cool and says a lot about what we think of our pop singers. They’re just the voice behind what we expect to be a giant spectacle. Whether Sia intends to make this statement or not is tough to say. Either way, “1000 Forms of Fear” is a pretty good album, through and through. Most of the songs are catchy as hell and fun to listen to. Unfortunately, it ends up sounding a bit empty and longer than it needs to be.
SCORE – 7.3
FAVORITE TRACKS – Chandelier, Big Girls Cry, Eye of the Needle, Hostage, Straight For the Knife, Electric Heart (feat. The Weeknd and Diplo), Fire Meets Gasoline