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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: Sia – “1000 Forms of Fear”

By: Daniel Gerichter (@ZenDonut) –

 

 

 

On her ambitious new album 1000 Forms of Fear, Australia’s Sia Furler proves that she’s ready for primetime.

Sia has released over 5 studio albums and the  38-year old veteran of the music world is on the cusp of Pop’s shift to the weird, Her dark, moody songwriting and vocals accompanied some of the world’s most gigantic hits: Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones” and, most notably, David Guetta’s enormous hit “Titanium” where her almost alien vocals hypershifted from the jazziest lows to skyscraper highs at an utterly absurd pace.

On 1000 Forms of Fear, Sia steps into the spotlight and is 100% focused on herself, owning the dark tones, the flying synths, and the themes of anger and introspection. With her lips snarled in a smirk, the opening track “Chandelier” kicks off the album as the lead single, and a send-up of the industry she knows so well. “Party girls don’t get hurt / Can’t feel anything, when will I learn / I push it down, push it down” paints the blasé club scenes depicted in every pop radio hit, while adding her own confessional to the very real and rampant struggle of alcoholism. It’s damning and risky, but it is also contender for anthem of the summer.

Sia continues her balancing act across 1000 Forms of Fear with lyrics bringing her own strife with mental illness and substance abuse to the fore, meldedin a terrifying haze. The lyrics to “Burn the Pages” create striking and disturbing metaphors like ‘There’s a hungry dog tugging at your frayed ends / But he’s just playing with you, he just wants to be your friend’.

It’s rare for a pop record to work with complex and intimate topics, as on  “Straight for the Knife”, Sia conveys her own perspective on sex in the thick of substance abuse oblivion: “My mascara a mess, harsh words for your princess / Boy, you and your promises”. The harsh metaphors and imagery play against the glamour of show business.

Sia’s wealth of industry chops and network of talented pals join her production to elevate 1000 Forms of Fear  from beginning to end. Superstars Diplo and The Weeknd produced “Elastic Heart”, the record’s most likely second monster hit, while the Strokes’ guitarist Nick Valensi appears on the frenetic “Hostage”.

Naturally, the album features Sia’s trademark vocal acrobatics; guttural lows and soaring highs that arenever gratuitous, but astound all the same. 1000 Forms of Fear may not be Sia’s first attempt at solo stardom, but she asserts her authority in the pop world as a rebirth and a coronation. The album is the crowning of a new post-pop queen, and while it represents a temporary reprieve from her role as a behind-the-scenes guru, it’s all up to Sia now.

Essential Tracks: “Chandelier”, “Elastic Heart”, & “Hostage”.

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