By Rathan Paul Harshavardan
Released Friday July 4th, 2014 - Inertia Recordings
Sia is certainly one of the recording industry's best kept secrets. With an outstanding album almost four years ago titled We Are Born, Sia is turning out to be quite the hit-maker and most certainly RCA's best asset. Ever since the release of Titanium, an unlikely hit for the songwriter who has penned tracks for Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Katy Perry and most recently Beyonce, 1000 Forms Of Fear is a testament to the fact that you can write good songs and sing them too. Songs about the personal fight for recognition, love and acceptance reign supreme, with each track zigzagging between up-beat pop tracks and slow ballads, displaying bipolarity in the music itself.
Sia has to be the indie pop music genre's darling. The usually reserved singer whose quirky ways of presenting her music with a personal touch, first teased Chandelier, the lead track off her latest album. The up-beat track with an equally unexpected video, with its live performances only cemented Sia's position in the industry. The album is wrought with Sia's personal touch, you can hear the awkward intonation and sharp vocals, and music albeit only when needed.
Chandelier, is followed by Big Girls Cry, a slow ballad about heartbreak and pain, irrespective of the age and who is involved. Heartbreak, seems to be music gold, with most artists making it the central theme of their musical efforts. Burn The Pages, the third track is Sia at her best, almost Kesha-like, a famous proponent of the talky rap technique akin to lyrical hip-hop.
Eye Of The Needle, is perhaps my most favourite track from the first half of the album. The slow burning ballad is an ode of love to anyone who fits the bill. Sia's awkward pronunciation does not take away from the song, only adding elements of pain and loss, something that is an art for some recording artists. Hostage, swings back to the up-beat notes that keep the album balanced. It is clear that the song has the influence of one of the best jazz singers ever, Amy Winehouse. You can almost hear the jazz singer resurrected as Sia sings, as if Amy lingered in the recording studio when they performed it.
Straight for the Knife, is a slow dark track about torturous love, an ode to how much in-spite of the pain, girls always idolise the bad boys. The track is reminiscent of the drawls Rufus Wainwright, a Canadian singer always employs in his operatic pop songs on Out Of The Game, or Want One. Fair Game, is Kesha styled talky rap only done elegantly and with a better look at what makes and breaks the bonds of love between people.
Elastic Heart (feat.The Weeknd & Diplo), the only collaboration is personally my most favourite track on the album. The track which was written for The Hunger Games - Catching Fire, produced by Greg Kurstin and Diplo features The Weeknd, and is a rhythmic pop song, charting at No. 7 in New Zealand when it was released in 2013. Free the Animal, is Sia's attempt at auto tune and electronic music, easily forgotten since there are many animal themed songs. Another song about the animal within you is not helping the album, but if you want Sia in various scales and different vocal styles, it perhaps is the best track. The song explains why Sia has few appearances by other artists, after all, when you can do all the vocal tricks yourself, why would you need anyone else.
Fire Meet Gasoline, would have easily been passed off as another Rihanna track. Rihanna who releases an album every year would have surely lapped it up, you can hear her signature vocals all over the song. Sia adds a passion that can't be passed off as anything but unique. Rihanna would have done a good job, but if you were to hear Sia sing Diamonds, I'm sure you can see why Sia cannot pass it to any one else. Cellophane, is a simplistic track complete with drum beats, stringed music, reverb and haunts you with its lines. Dressed In Black, is another introspective track that starts off with simple notes but picks up pace with the chorus, complete with a rock tinged background, the bells significant through the whole track.
Sia has definitely chosen the right time to release 1000 Forms Of Fear, right after the chart-topping numbers she has been writing for others. It would be a shame if the Aussie singer who personifies hermitage from the paparazzi to the tee, did not come out with an album any longer than she did with RCA, because the art she so passionately loves would be lost on us. Sure, she's pissed that Titanium, originally written for R&B legend,Mary J. Blige was released with her vocals, but then Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love You' would have never reached the popularity it did if it weren't for Whitney Houston's rendition of it. Just saying, musical genius is hidden everywhere, you just need to find it. Listen to the album if you love music in its simplest form, I am sure you will love it.