Her seventh solo album, and the follow-up to a number one both sides of the Atlantic in 2014’s 1000 Forms Of Fear, This Is Acting is a decidedly meta concern, being formed of self-penned tracks rejected by A-list artists. Whether this betrays low self-esteem or sky-high self-confidence is probably a question best left between her and her analyst.
Sia is a musical maximalist
Sia’s forte is writing overblown, glossy juggernauts of songs that are all tension, hyperactivity and clatter. It’s fair to say she is definitely a musical maximalist. The opening two tracks, Bird Set Free and Alive, were both turned down by Adele for 25, despite being brooding electro-ballads given seismic amounts of welly.
Cheap Thrills is a Rihanna reject, although its attitudinal party-pop sounds so bespoke for her that it is ridiculous. One Million Bullets finds Sia’s powerhouse vocal hymning romantic love through a megaphone: it could be a meticulously contemporary update of a Bonnie Tyler or Jennifer Rush 1980s power ballad.
Sia is indisputably a master of her dark art, even if most of her songs sound destined to soundtrack the shoulder-heaving denouements of Hollywood blockbusters. Footprints is self-help electro-pop that was nixed by Beyoncé, possibly because its mawkish sentiment is ladled on with a trowel. Yet Sweet Design is a masterclass in Crazy In Love-style stuttering rhythms and controlled explosions.
It all shudders to a close with Space Between, the kind of ballad that Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus would deliver during their live extravaganzas from a trapeze, to get their breath back between rockier numbers. There is one phrase that Sia has never uttered: “Less is more”.
Recommended for you