Sia: 1000 Forms of Fear

1000 Forms of Fear
(Monkey Puzzle Records)

Buy it at Amazon!

Australian songstress Sia Furler is one of the most influential forces in pop music, having written for or with superstars like Rihanna, Beyoncé, Shakira, Eminem, and Pitbull. In her own work, she has shied away from fame and the limelight (as well as the camera), but those who did not know her name before surely do now. Sia’s sixth LP is a clever balance of personal and nebulous, revealing and at times siding substance behind some damn good style.

By now, lead single “Chandelier” has gone viral with its cute video of a young girl dancing while wearing a wig replicating Sia’s blunt blonde bob, but the song is also a harsh, catchy depiction of the self-destructive indulgence that once threatened her very life. Sia’s voice is reminiscent of Rihanna’s at her most powerful, but she chooses to leave in the cracks and breaks that most pop stars would have erased from their takes. That strain is also evident in the upbeat “Hostage,” highlighting the strain of wanting more of a relationship. It’s this quirkiness, this wiliness to show the rough edges that makes Sia seem more normal and accessible than picture-perfect divas.

Nearly any song on 1000 Forms of Fear could be repackaged and recorded by another artist to make a hit, but some of the darkness would be lost. “Straight for the Knife” includes clever details of preparing for a romantic encounter (“put a bow in my hair, wore pretty underwear”) before the inevitable heartbreak. “Free the Animal” is a brutal portrait of lust, while “Fire Meet Gasoline” is a dark epic. Passion is in no short order here, and Sia is willing to sacrifice herself along with it.

Not all pop is created equal. Some may find Sia’s personal work a bit too far left of center, but for me, she’s right on target. 1000 Forms of Fear has been storming the charts, and rightfully so.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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