One of our most significant forces behind the pop music industry has risen from the shadows once again to showcase her underrated skill and talent. Sia’s revealing breakout of 1000 Forms of Fear marked a new chapter in her solo career, releasing all of her inner thoughts and demons out into the world. Now at it again, her latest effort This Is Acting packs the same punch, however, delivers a stronger, more confident message of empowerment and moving forward. As she stands in the spotlight as her own pop star, she finds new comfort and exploration of her style that turns heads towards her adaptability and persistence.
Though some of her previous pop hits like “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” come from her last album, it generally remained focused on Sia’s quirky, experimental style that she does best. One standout element of This Is Acting is her shifted focus on crafting a moveable, powerful, and radio-friendly sound that still comes from her heart. Sia has always managed to create these artistic pieces that sway mass audiences with meaning, and This Is Acting is no exception. Her bouncy rhythms in “Cheap Thrills” and explosive attitude in “Move Your Body” are essential for a girls’ night pregame or a club dancefloor, yet also flow so vigorously with intention and care, making Sia’s touch on pop music so influential.
With this in mind, meaning goes far beyond a fun beat for Sia. This Is Acting showcases her phenomenal skills when she writes empowering ballads that capture the heart and mind. Opening single “Alive” is the driving force of this album, capturing its essential spirit and gut-wrenching emotions. The fragility and strength in her voice battle through pleasant cracks as she reaches high notes and lets go of herself completely. These same independent chants speak loudly in the honest “Bird Set Free” and compelling “Unstoppable”: Sia has risen as a better form of herself – a more capable and invincible person than before.
If there was anything to disappoint me in this album, I would have to admit how I noticed a lack of development within Sia’s lyricism. This would seem unlikely for such a well-known and successful songwriter, however even some of her best songs on This Is Acting would have been that much better with more internal complexity. Her intentions and messages are clear, but unnecessary repetition of basic words hold her back from a higher level of musical poetry.
Though this setback carried throughout the album, her few creative risks on “Reaper” and “Sweet Design” revisit her quirky musical ability from her previous work. Her collaboration with Kanye West on “Reaper” is a purely original track on This Is Acting – its bouncy groove and carefree aesthetic shine bright on the LP. This experimentation shows to be surviving through “Sweet Design” and “Broken Glass”. Though very different in composition, they both thrive off of their unique instrumentals that resonate with the listener – a skill that Sia has maintained throughout her entire career. Though none of the tracks on this album fade into the background, this smart balance of old, new, and common gives pop music a whole new meaning – with Sia’s name on it.
Pop | RCA Records