Fifty million people have watched Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ video. Sure, that’s not Charlie Bit My Finger numbers, but it’s a lot, and to the majority of them this may as well be her debut album (it’s her sixth). That said, ‘1000 Forms of Fear’ is very much a rebirth. After addiction and depression left the Adelaide singer suicidal in 2010, Sia went sober, swapping alcoholism for workaholism, deciding to become a writer for hire, and penning David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’ in 40 minutes and Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ in 20. She’s been banging out bangers ever since, and her new pop chops shine on her solo comeback.
It kicks off with the unreasonably immense ‘Chandelier’, the sort of song you could find yourself blasting out on loop until the neighbours take you to court. On the surface it’s power pop, but its lyrics (‘Help me, I’m holding on for dear life’) paint a fragile picture, setting the tone for an emboldening album that presents Sia as broken, but ready to rise.
Some songs, like rousing relationship anthem ‘Fire Meet Gasoline’, you can imagine coming out of the mouths of the chanteuses she’s written for, while elsewhere Sia veers into more grown-up Adele territory; she recently tweeted a desire to do the next Bond song, and the brooding, epic ‘Cellophane’ sounds like just that. There are some charmingly kooky moments, like the xylophone solo on ‘Fair Game’, but it ends, thanks to ‘Dressed in Black’, with a brutally naked tale of salvation, and some first-class wailing.
‘1000 Forms of Fear’ isn’t a string of Number Ones; it’s more dialled down than that, less obvious, a little deeper, and sometimes middlingly generic. This may well be due to the benchmark being set so high by ‘Chandelier’. Yet, despite moments of underwhelment, it’s still stirring stuff, and never less than the sound of someone singing for her life.
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