It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Sia. Four years, to be exact. Sure, she’s guest sung on David Guetta tracks and has been writing forIt’s been a while since we’ve heard from Sia. Four years, to be exact. Sure, she’s guest sung on David Guetta tracks and has been writing for Rihanna and Beyoncé. But the last time she made music for herself was for 2010′s We Are Born. Since then, her approach towards her sound and her image has changed – and it’s really fascinating. She dons a blonde wig (as pictured in the album cover) and sings with her back turned in all her performances. Others will take the front stage with interpretative dance as she sings – Maddie Ziegler did it perfectly, Lena Dunham did it laughably badly. She’s hiding her face in a metaphorical paper bag as her music incites bodily expression in her guest performers, and in a counterintuitive way, Ms. Blonde Bob is becoming more of a star than she doesn’t want to be. And it’s all because of her new music. 1000 Forms of Fear does perfectly what contemporary pop music is supposed to do – make you dance, shake, and break free from your daily inertia as if no one can judge you. Beginning with her hit single Chandelier, the album manages to be both more fun and more mature than We Are Born. It reduces to shambles any guilt you may have felt for turning your pop playlist up to max volume and shimmying incoherently around your bedroom, because that’s what Sia wants you to do.
We Are Born proved to us that Sia knows the secret to her infectious pop: juxtaposing her powerful voice with buoyant, hip-hop tinged dance-pop beats. However, on 1000 Forms of Fear, Sia ups the level of passion in her vocals and refines her beats to create a more distinctive sound. Xylophones race and snares pop in the background as her voice crackles and strains as if she’s about to burst. It’s hot, it’s fun, it’s everything you would normally feel guilty about for listening to but can’t because it’s executed with such a mature panache. What Sia’s album lacks in diversity or rhythmic flux it makes up for in consistency and energy. Every track on the album is an exciting experience on its own. One of the album’s flaws is the sonic fatigue that it induces near the end of an entire listen. However, that has almost grown to become one of the trademark features of contemporary, radio-friendly pop. As a whole, 1000 Forms of Fear is a well-deserved success for the artist as well as the listener. If you walk into your young relative’s room and see her methodically flailing her limbs and hopping about with sporadic grace to this album – just as how Sia’s voice waxes and wanes in quality with spontaneity – you know the artist has achieved her goal.
FINAL SCORE: 4 out of 5 stars (raw score: 82.5, between “great” and “almost perfect”)… Expand