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Album Review: Sia – 1000 Forms Of Fear

I don’t wanna ruin the end, but ‘1000 Forms Of Fear ‘ is pretty mindblowing. Sia has always been one of those artists that erred on the verge of commercial success. The quirky ‘Some People Have Real Problems’ boasted the gorgeous ‘Little Black Sandals’ and minor hit ‘Buttons’, whilst the defining ‘Breathe Me’ is the soundtrack to every death scene in US TV history. Following on from the bright and accessible ‘We Are Born’, Sia found a massive load of success. This album will be soaked in headlines reading something like ‘the most famous popstar you’ve never heard of’. It’s half-true though, casual listeners will know her signature rasp from her international smashes, but as for the woman herself? Well, deserving success and attaining it are two different matters.

Everything here is big. Massive, even. ‘Burn The Pages’ conjures up an incredible, euphoric vibe from the moment the beat kicks in and relentlessly powers through. ‘Elastic Heart’ has the crashing drums you’d expect from a Sia anthem and, ofcourse, an infectious chorus that is coupled with a hip-hop styled instrumental that dominates the choruses. ‘Hostage’ brings some sun-soaked guitar action to it’s frantic hook, whilst ‘Big Girls Cry’ defies Fergie’s iconic sentiment with a gorgeous, heart-stopping piano refrain that may well be the moment of the record.

The fragility of Sia’s voice is the staple of the record. She writes stunning songs, that much had been established long before this record was released, but nobody can pull off the songs with as much bittersweet strength as Furler. She is more than capable of storming the huge notes, as ‘Chandelier’ proves, but instead of pulling it off with ease – which has it’s own charm – Sia sounds like she’s literally giving her all, stretching to the end of her vocal range everytime to somehow articulate the emotive power of all of her compositions. Defining it as a passionate delivery is an understatement.

The only challenges Sia might face with this record is that these songs are so instant and feisty that they strike on the first listen. Songs like ‘Fire Meet Gasoline’ have a simpler chorus that even beg a sing-a-long before a debut listen has culminated – whilst it may initially sound fresh, inviting and engaging, there’s always the fear that the spark may diffuse after repeated listens. That being said, ‘Chandelier’ still sounds triumphant and sensational after all the repeated listens i’ve put it through so, perhaps Sia has created something special. After all, when the foundation of art is such warm and relatable emotion, it’s not likely to ever go out of fashion. It might not be the worldwide smashes that ‘Titanium’ and ‘Perfume‘ were (Soz, Brit), but ‘1000 Forms of Fear’ will likely be a slowburning hit that leaves listener after listener with the old-familiar open-jaw awe that only sensations like Sia are capable of evoking.

Words: Simon McMurdo

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