Listening to this album bought me to a strange realization, not only has Sia penned many of the best pop songs of the last decade, she was probably behind many of the mediocre ones as well. Sia is an Australian singer songwriter who had been floating on the edges of the mainstream music for at least five years before bursting in with her single “Chandelier” off of her 2014 masterpiece 1000 Forms of Fear. Her latest endeavor, This Is Acting is the two year awaited solidification of her place on the top 40 pop charts. Fittingly enough, this album consists ofSia singing songs she wrote for other artists such as Katy Perry, Adele, and Rihanna. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Sia explains how each song is written from the perspective of someone other than her. There for, singing these songs feels as if she is acting.
As usual, Sia’s huge and raw vocals flood the record, but it is the only thing remarkable about it. It is not that this album is bad, in fact it is far from it. There are several tracks on the album that truly send shivers down one's spine like good music should. The most prominent examples being “Space Between” and “Unstoppable”. After a while however, the songs begin to blur together into a white noise of generic instrumentation and lyrics that fall flat on their overly cliche and positive faces.
I would like to be able to talk about the production of each song, but there really is not much to say. The Album is compiled of a combination of piano ballads, and tropical bubblegum pop tracks. So regarding instrumentation, Sia is not trying on new styles of music, instead she tries to cram all of her very different songs into one narrow sound that does not perfectly fit any of them. This puzzles me because Sia has done plenty of style switching herself, from the folksy Color The Small One and Some People Have Real Problems to the happy pop album We Are Born to the dark, indie pop leaning 1000 Forms Of Fear. The sound of this is acting, falls in line with the sound of 2016s pop charts to the letter. Complete with heavily synthesized party songs that never sounded like much fun (Cheap Thrills, Sweet Design), to clonking power anthems such as (Bird Set Free).
Not only is the instrumentation unremarkable, the lyrics often are as well. The songs are filled with themes that have been run over and over throughout pop music. The supposed empowerment anthems are written so vaguely that they are meaningless. Lyrics such as “So lost, the line had been crossed/Had a voice, had a voice but I could not talk/ You held me down” (Bid Set Free) with no further explanation or reason for her distress.
I do not find myself irritated by this album, neither am I confused, or chagrined, or elated. I am simply neutral, I have heard it all before. I would have to rate this album a 6 out of 10, despite it’s shortcomings there is nothing really bad about it. If you are a fan of pop, as I am, you may enjoy it.
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