Sia’s Album Excels with Deep, Personal Lyrics
In July, Australian pop artist Sia debuted her sixth studio album, titled “1000 Forms of Fear,” after a four-year stint recording and writing for other artists
“1000 Forms of Fear” is a raw and emotional ride, showcasing Sia’s struggles with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. She rips out her heart and wears it on her sleeve, showcasing the best of her own work and exploring the inner depths of her past struggles with love, mental illness and abuse.
The first track, “Chandelier,” received four Grammy nominations and was the third best-selling single in 2014, and rightfully so. Between the combination of visual performance art that she has involved in the marketing of this album and the skill of songwriting involved, “Chandelier” promises to be one of the classics of our generation.
Sia’s rough vocals and hip-hop inspired beat drive the song along as we feel the singer’s life begin to spiral out of control.
“Help me, I’m holding on for dear life,” she begs the listener. “Won’t look down, won’t open my eyes/ Keep my glass full until morning light, ‘cause I’m just holding on for tonight.”
Her second single off of the album, “Elastic Heart” is a militaristic fight of a song, and a fierce exploration of the struggle to keep going after losing a meaningful relationship. Sia’s strong cry for strength makes this a classic breakup song coupled with an ethereal vocal quality that helps this single to shine amid the album’s other songs of sensuality or surrender.
After the complex rhythms and sounds of the other tracks, “Fair Game” is a simplistic strings piece paired with Adele-style vocals that sing of desiring an equal relationship with trust. It has a certain childlike quality about it that hearkens to the artist’s desire to find a certain amount of vulnerability with a partner that she considers able to handle her and her past.
The beauty of this song is found in the lyrics, which are some of the best work on the album.
“You terrify me, we’ve still not kissed and yet I’ve cried/ You got too close and I pushed and pushed hoping you’d bite.”
With the gentle instrumental background, it makes the listener want to lean in and listen to every single word she sings, listening to a story all too familiar to some.
The album also features an expansive masochistic exploration in “Free the Animal,” in which the mechanistic vocals describe the many ways that the artist asks she be killed. “I love you so, wanna throw you from the roof/ The pressure builds, wanna put my hands through you.” This track, much like Florence and the Machine’s “Kiss with a Fist” is an ardent exploration of the rough nature of love and sex.
Not far behind that is the explosive “Fire Meet Gasoline,” a hip-hop inspired song about the heat of passion and the smoldering feelings of a strong relationship. Here, Sia’s deep chest belt shines as she sings out the driving chorus, “Flame that came from me/ Fire meet gasoline.”
While most of these songs are more on the darker side, “Hostage,” co-written with The Stroke’s Nick Valensi, is a playful, upbeat description of a love game of cops and criminals.
It rounds out a diverse and well-written album displaying the best of a singer-songwriter about to explode in popularity and come into artistry on her own.
“1000 Forms of Fear” is a pleasurable, relatable album with a wide range of styles and rhythms. I would advise anyone who enjoyed the songs “Chandelier” or “Elastic Heart” on the radio to listen to the entire album and discover their own hidden emotions that this album is sure to reveal.