Oh, Sia. Delicate little Sia, suffering a great irony of life – vehemently averse to fame, and yet responsible for so many bangers that keep her in that very spotlight. There’s no doubt that Ms Furler is an extraordinarily gifted songwriter but let’s be honest, we can all predict what a Sia song is going to entail before it even arrives: a facsimile drum pattern, those similar melodies, that same cadence, and that trademark gut-busting chorus.
In fairness, it works for the most part on 1000 Forms of Fear. Lead single Chandelier (a song that couldn’t more obviously have been written for Rihanna) is still Sia in a nutshell, inspiring a conflict we enjoy more than a Lily Allen twitter beef – an aural assault, a battering of the heart, that still makes us want to move our feet. It works on Chandelier, it works on last year’s Hunger Games-hit Elastic Heart, it works on Big Girls Cry, and it knocks our socks off on Free The Animal, which has all the ferocity and originality of a future single.
Unfortunately, the template runs out of steam soon after – while Chandelier is the best template of what Sia can do, Burn The Pages verges on self-parody. It continues on Eye of the Needle, and once the pattern emerges it’s hard to concentrate on the content of Sia’s lyrics as much as playing bingo with her songwriting tropes. Choruses begin to merge into one, wailing becomes wearing, and a song like Fair Game becomes difficult to separate from something like Cellophane.
In some respects, Sia sort of comes across as the thinking listener’s Katy Perry (admirably even trying some straight-up pop on Hostage). While the latter throws out generic after-school inspirational quotes with the occasionally memorable chorus, Sia’s words set her apart in that they are loaded with a more personal, tortured resonance (and there’s a lot to be said for someone who can even make a line as simple as “big girls cry when their hearts are breaking” so damn moving). The problem is in the way its presented – when everything is so overwrought, nothing holds weight, and 1000 Forms of Fear essentially becomes just one repetitive form of Sia.