2 Big Girls Cry
3 Burn the Pages
4 Eye of the Needle
6 Straight for the Knife
7 Fair Game
9 Free the Animal
10 Fire Meet Gasoline
12 Dressed in Black
It's quite ironic. Most people have probably not heard a song sung by Sia in their lifetime. And even if, it was most likely some guest vocals for another artist. Yet, I bet around everyone has heard at least one Sia song. She is responsible for a ***load of huge hits from the last decade. Beyoncé, Rihanna, Rita Ora, Kate Perry. Is there anyone that doesn't know these names? Well rest assured, Sia has written at least some of their hits.
But she also has an impressive back catalog of albums, which span from Singer/Songwriter over Rock to pure Pop. And it's all very convincing. Maybe this is the reason why the booklet never shows Sia's face. It's always just an empty spot. People have heard her songs, but they connect it to another person. Can this album change this fact? Probably not, Does it have the potential to do so? Definately yes.
The first notes of Chandelier, the first single, open the album and if you know her older albums you have to wonder: Is this really Sia? The opening sounds just like Rihanna. Both her voice and the style of urban rhythms are quite similar. Not the best sign. Then after a short bridge, the refrain kicks in. And boy, what a hymn. It's that kind of song that leaves you speechless. Her voice also sounds much better in the refrain, reaching for the high tones easily, but never getting weak. The scheme repeats for a few times and this pop masterpiece is over. And that's when you think, the album can only go down from here. And it does not.
The second song "Big Girls Cry" hits a similar tone, not quite as much pathos, but still a very catchy refrain. Sia shows off her songwriting skills. Hearing these melodies you don't wonder for one moment, about her success as a ghost-writer.
Let's use this moment to try to catch the essence of the sound on this album. Close your eyes. Picture yourself in a hall full of people. The air is cool and music is playing. loud. Its that kind of loudness that leaves echoes of the playing song. Reverb and bass are the key here - combined with a vocal delivery that seems to flow above everything else. If this sounds retro to you, yes - this album captures the spirit of the 80s. There always seems to be an echo of Sia's voice floating in the air. The drums keep vibrating. Yet, this is not a retro album. Quite the contrary - this is a very modern release, which is inspired by a specific era. And it just happens to be the one most prominent for its huge melodies.
And in the same vein the tracks continue to flow until "Hostage", the 5th track gives us a break. That's Sia we knew from her last record, the one doing rock songs with an attitude. Still very catchy, but somewhat edgy. After 4 pop-hymns in a row "Hostage" takes the perfect slot on the album to relax the listener. Well done.
The rest of the album goes straight back to the beginning. Pop songs, with a dark twist to it. Very modern, but yet very reminiscent of the past. And it ends with the darkest song of the album and yet another climax, before suddenly ending the journey with 6 simple piano notes going down. We are not flowing anymore, feet on the ground.
So what remains in the end? 1000 Forms of Fear is a flawless pop record. There is one thing that remains to be seen though. Records like this tend to age quickly. We will see how well this album survives the test of time. But for now I give it a well deserved