Sia’s new album is ‘This Is Acting’ and it’s the first since the Australian hitmaker’s breakthrough album ‘1000 Forms of Fear,’ cementing her status as a solo artist in her own right. Now that the follow-up has arrived critics are having their say. Here’s a roundup of reviews.
In recent years, Sia Furler — now known by her first name only — has rapidly gone from hitmaker extraordinaire, to a pop music superstar in her own right and on her own terms. After penning such monster hits as Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds,’ and Flo Rida’s ‘Wild Ones’ and Eminem’s ‘Beautiful Pain’ among many, many others, it is she herself as the performer and interpreter of her own songs.
In an era that sees her peers going to extremes on stage with scanty costumes and dance moves that aggravate parents’ groups and spark hand-wringing commentary, Sia has made publicity shyness literally an art form. She is often not on the stage at all. Instead singing off stage as the likes of child dancer Maddie Ziegler and even Lena Dunham have stood in for her literally with interpretive dance. And of late, when she does take to the stage she’s shrouded in the wig that she wears on the album’s cover on which, all the more surprisingly, she lets us see her face.
Her breakthrough album was ‘1000 Forms of Fear,’ her sixth album, which gave her universal critical acclaim as well as a Grammy nod for one of the single, ‘Chandelier.’ Now this time around, with her seventh, ‘This Is Acting’ she’s given us a compilation of songs that were originally written for other artists and then rejected for one reason or another. Not least of these rejects were from Adele. Yes, ‘Bird Set Free’ and ‘Alive’ were among the songs that Adele passed on in the years she was recording her ’25’ album which has become a pop culture phenomenon with its unheard of international success.
Nowadays when Sia takes to the stage or to the recording studio, the music world eagerly awaits. And such is the case with ‘This Is Acting’ and the critics are weighing in. Here’s a roundup of what they have to say.
“….Where Sia’s previous 1000 Forms of Fear was a pragmatic move to free her from a publishing deal, This Is Acting is a more curious entity: Call it a Greatest Unclaimed Hits album. It doubles as a fun guessing game for any wannabe A&R, a fascinating insight into the business of pop: What do Bey and Ri’s forthcoming albums not sound like? Why didn’t Adele keep lead single “Alive” for 25?….” –SPIN
“….The paradox is that this self-professedly impersonal album should feel more thrillingly intimate than many a supposedly soul-baring effort. That’s thank to the remarkable instrument that is Furler’s voice: huge but fragile, fearlessly ragged and wild, seemingly a conduit of a tumultuous past that has included drug addiction and mental health issues, it perfectly counterpoints her songs’ robust construction in a way that makes you wish she kept every song she wrote for herself….”– The Independent
“…..Most of these songs — with the exception of the catchy but all-too-trite sexercise innuendo “Move Your Body” and the Ellie Goulding-meets-Bieber-banger “Cheap Thrills” — bear a pretty clear Sia stamp, with mild nods towards the artists they were meant for. Working again with 1000 Forms collaborators Greg Kurstin and Jesse Shatkin to create lush production that verges on but never quite becomes saccharine, Sia implements similar singular vocal flourishes that may have drawn us to some of her earlier tracks — alien samples of her voice course through songs like “Cheap Thrills,” and her voice punctuates the lyrics with outlandish ululations on “One Million Bullets.” ….”– Flavorwise
“….“One Million Bullets”, the album’s only selection considered too precious by the singer to pitch to others, finds her voice ripping at the seams in pledging complete fidelity to a lover by swearing she’d stand on the other side of a loaded weapon to protect their union. Then, faster than a bullet can leave the gun’s barrel, she sheds the cocky stance to meekly purr, “How many would you take?” It’s a welcome vulnerable moment on an album filled with riveting pomp and circumstance…..” –Consequence of Sound
“….Part of the fun, of course, is trying to suss out whom these songs were originally written for. Sia deserves credit for so easily slipping into the personas of her muses, but “Sweet Design,” which harks back to the go-go sound of Beyoncé’s B’Day, and “Move Your Body,” whose unabashed 4/4 beat and clattering EDM percussion are straight out of Rihanna’s Loud, seem more like dated outtakes than underappreciated gems…..” -Slant Magazine
Yes, as critics are pointing out the album also functions as a journey, of sorts, into the inner working of the pop music industry. And to witness the songwriter herself bring them to life on her own terms and in her own signature style is part of the fascination. A winning formula? Time will tell. See Sia’s ‘This Is Acting’ album cover art and videos are below!