You may not know Sia Furler. But you've certainly heard her work -- from Rihanna's "Diamonds" and Beyoncé's "Pretty Hurts" to David Guetta's "Titanium" and Flo Rida's "Wild Ones."
That's the way she wants it. Sia, who stopped touring and declined to be photographed or appear in her own videos after being diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Graves' disease in 2010, wants her career to move on a professional blockbuster track and a more personal one. And on her sixth album, "1000 Forms of Fear" (Monkey Puzzle/ RCA), her first since her diagnosis and an aborted suicide attempt, that dichotomy shows.
In her previous work, Sia was more risk-taking and more intimate, a style represented on the new album by the oddly playful "Hostage," which brings a girl-group sweetness and '80s synth simplicity to a complex relationship, and the stunningly defiant "Elastic Heart," which has already been a hit from the "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" soundtrack. The current single "Chandelier" shows how well she does when she tries to bridge the gap between the personal and the poppy.
However, all that well-crafted work also makes many of her other songs seem vague and interchangeable. It's one cliche after another in "Fire Meet Gasoline," as she happily declares, "I'm burning alive." In "Straight for the Knife," she wallows in melodrama, while the lyrics of "Free the Animal" border on ridiculous, where she begs "decapitate me" and "kill me with your loving."
Sia is a fascinating mix of contradictions, but her "1000 Forms of Fear" often just seems haphazard.
"1000 Forms of Fear"
THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE Coming to terms with being herself and being a star.