Review: This Is Acting by Sia

This Is Acting by SiaThe release of 1000 Forms of Fear, Sia’s surprise attempt to do the pop music she’s had a hand in building, seemed to have left critics a little perplexed. It is a good pop record, sure, showing off the songwriting that put the otherwise obscure Aussie singer to the top, but something was lost along the way. Perhaps it’s her emotional heft, although she really swapped one approach with another. Perhaps it’s the playful attitude her middle-era released showed. But after that album, we seem to have gotten used to this new Sia. (Or maybe it’s the high rotation on pop radio.) That brings us to This Is Acting, where she refines her pop sensibilities – a necessity, considering the back story of how the album is made of songs she initially wrote for other people – and merges it with the things that endeared her to early fans. Or, maybe, it’s because the sound of pop is changing: the record isn’t that much of a boom-pop (to return to a phrase I used last time) one, and in sixth and seventh tracks – “Cheap Thrills” and “Reaper” – she even gives herself a bit of an indie-esque bounce. (“Sweet Design”, on the other hand, booms with club delight. Perhaps too much.) The first two tracks, “Bird Set Free” and “Alive”, sees Sia in diva mode, straining her voice to good effect – all countered by the final track, the delicate “Space Between”. She can do it, yes; arguably she’s done it better this time. Yet, This Is Acting is a bit exhausting. I’m not sure it’s because it’s a pop record – you don’t want to blame it on the overall mature of pop music. A part of me thinks it’s because Sia’s become a victim of her own success story. [NB] | 3/5

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