Album review

Sia
1000 Forms Of Fear
***

Sia Furler has a pathological dread of the spotlight, refusing all interview requests (except really high profile ones with publications such as the New York Times) and declining to be photographed. The cover of her new record makes the point forcefully: it’s just a picture of Furler’s blonde hair, the space where her face should be prominently blacked out.

Her stance against the cult of celebrity is admirable but seems a bit beside the point given that she isn’t especially famous. The Australian has achieved some recognition, as singer with the now forgotten trip-hop band Zero 7, and as contributor to the soundtrack of the HBO TV show Six Feet Under. But the closest she’s been to fame is sitting next to Rihanna and Katy Perry, both of whom she has written songs for.

Her solo output is in much the same vein as the material she has penned for these superstars. The calibre of top level pop writing has never been higher, with dozens of composers vying for a berth on an LP by Perry, RiRi, Beyonce and a handful of other mega-brands.

Furler’s at her best when being throwaway: both ‘Burn The Pages’ and ‘Eye of the Needle’ could have slotted tidily on Katy Perry’s most recent LP, though Sia’s quavering voice adds a welcome tinge of vulnerability. Meanwhile, single ‘Chandelier’ is a reminder why Rihanna has been drawn to work with her — her approximation of the Barbadian pop princess’s domineering quaver verges on uncanny.

If there’s a weakness it’s that Sia is at moments too much of a chameleon. and her personality fails to shine through. Maybe that’s on purpose — it isn’t beyond the bounds she is keeping some part of herself hidden. That is beneficial for her mental well being — but it makes for an occasionally unsatisfying album.


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