Sia 'This Is Acting' review

Alexander Bradley notes how Sia embraces rejection to build an albums-worth of pop bangers in 'This Is Acting'.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 24th Mar 2016.
Originally published: 4th Feb 2016

Image: Sia 

The camera-shy, 40 year-old, Aussie songwriter went stratospheric with her last album 1000 Forms Of Fear. Upon her return she shows off the tracks which other A-list pop stars passed on.

From the personal balladry of her multi-Grammy nominated breakthrough album and its lead belter ‘Chandelier’, Sia is chameleon-like in her 7th studio offering.

As a result, guessing which artist the singer is channelling is just as rewarding as taking the twelve tracks at face value - which is a neat package of contrasting pop anthems.

Opening with the huge double of piano-led ‘Bird Set Free’ and lead single ‘Alive’, Sia is at her most powerful and most manic. With her voice as her best weapon, Sia reinvigorates a pretty ordinary track as her soaring vocals begin to crackle as she declares “I’m Alive” over and again.

From the blockbuster opening, both tracks which were pitched to Adele for her 25 album. She throws in one of her own tracks with the ethereal ‘One Million Bullets’ before diving into the excitable dance hit ‘Move Your Body’ which is a blatant Shakira-inspired tune.

As This Is Acting reaches its mid-point, the star shows off her most diverse skills as the tunes jump from the empowering ‘Unstoppable’ to the reggae vibes of ‘Cheap Thrills’ and the soulful ‘Reaper’ – both of which were intended for Rihanna.

With its curtain call visible, This Is Acting samples Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’ for the fun and punchy ‘Sweet Design’ in which Sia calls on her inner Queen B. 

‘Broken Glass’ fights to win you over with its outrageously cheesy key changes before the intimate final track ‘Space Between’ brings the album to a chilling end.

As the final note lingers and then fades, it becomes very easy to over think the album. While always described by Sia as just “fun”, This Is Acting really showcases her genius as a songwriter. She steps into the shoes of pop’s finest and churns out hit after hit.

By the nature of the album, it makes it impossible to compare it to its predecessor 1000 Forms Of Fear. For the moments in which Sia shines through, they make this record a real must-listen. 

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Words: Alexander Bradley