You know you're onto a winner when Sia's new album '1000 Forms Of Fear' opens with the phenomenal 'Chandelier'. It's a song way past its time that evokes an emotional reaction from listeners and pushes Sia way into the limelight, despite her obvious dislike of fame and celebrity culture - she's performed each live rendition of the song with her back to the audience and had a focus instead on interpretive performers.
"One two three, one two three drink / Throw 'em back, 'til I lose count" - Sia's retelling her 'party girl' lifestyle where she was puppeteered and manouvered throughout a portion of her life, forced to put on a smile despite her feeling anything but happy.
The struggles and pressures of fame have meant that Sia's become addicted to alcohol and drugs in the past, and when she was on the brink of taking her own life, it was a phone call from a close friend that persuaded her to enter rehab instead. It is this period and her experiences of addiction that are explored here.
'Big Girls Cry' follows and it's another track that packs a punch, taking her talent to a whole new level and demonstrating why so many are flocking around her, salivating at the prospect of more new material.
There's a certain tragic tone that's prominent in a lot of what's on offer here and it really cuts deep, and so when you hear the more upbeat 'Hostage' come in at track number five it's a welcome and brilliant surprise.
A collaboration with The Weeknd and Diplo adds another layer to a multi-dimensional collection of tunes through the futuristic 'Elastic Heart', featuring an infectious chorus and verses that build to a rapturous ending before a whispered close-off. It's perfectly structured.
'Free The Animal' is messy in all the right ways. There's anger and true passion displayed in an experimental dance tune which would serve perfectly as a single.
Those who aren't convinced yet need only listen to 'Fire Meet Gasoline'. If that's not your bag, then Sia isn't the artist for you.
Stripping things back for 'Cellophane', you're left a little on edge with the nerve-wracking pulsating opening, before a light instrumental intrudes whilst maintaining the moody characteristics. It's the perfect set-up before final track 'Dressed In Black'.
Sia sings of how she "had locked life out / imprisoned by doubt" before "you found me dressed in black / hiding with a battered back / life had broken my heart into pieces". Luckily, the person who covered her "heart in kisses" taught her that her life had not passed her by and brought her back from the brink of self-destruction.
After first listen I'm exhausted. Sia transports you so that you are taken on this journey with her throughout the ups and downs, and it's a rough ride but one that's completely worthwhile.
It's a shame that Sia stipulated in her contract that she would not have to tour or do press for this album, because a live show would be something fantastic to behold if any of her recent performances are something to go by, but completely understandable that the star is wary of another breakdown.
If there is such a thing as 'The X Factor', Sia has it. She's easy to like, hugely talented, unique in her tone and approach and more than most, she's real. You hear moments of her voice cracking and there's no attempt to try and smooth over them - it's utterly raw and compelling.
The album of the year so far.
'1000 Forms of Fear' is out now.
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