Sia‘s new album This Is Acting dropped today and it is full of surprises. Each song has a little vocal oddity that makes the album a unique stylistic blend. The album is a strong follow-up to the 2014 1000 Forms of Fear, yet its wide-ranging exploration of styles and sounds dilutes the energy of its self-assertion and confidence.

‘This Is Acting’ By Sia Album Review

This Is Acting reportedly bears this title due to its backstory. Almost every song on the album was written by Sia for another artist, including big names like Adele, Beyonce and Rihanna, but was rejected. This could account for the varied sounds that Sia delivers or “acts out” on this album, but even with this in mind, Sia manages to make each song her own.

The opening track on the album “Bird Set Free” sets the mood and main themes of the album — freedom, personal independence, challenge and survival. It’s an explosive start, which flawlessly captures the singer’s musical aesthetic.

In “Alive,” which was released as a single back in November and was co-written with Adele and Tobias Jesso Jr., Sia sings about finding the personal strength to overcome life’s obstacles. In the chorus, she repeats the self-affirming phrase “I’m still breathing” followed by a thundering gradation of “I’m alive” where her voice is full of raw sentimentality. It’s not difficult to imagine how this song would sound on 25 if it wasn’t rejected by Adele, but Sia’s rendition is earthy and just as forceful.

The last song on the album called “Space Between” is one of those songs that could easily be overlooked because it is not as explosive as other tracks. It’s toned down sound and vocal layers, however, are reminiscent of Sia’s earlier works. This song draws out the sensitivity of Sia’s voice and brings the album to a steady conclusion.

READ: Why Sia Doesn’t Show Her Face?

Many tracks on the album like “Bird Set Free,” “Alive” and “Unstoppable” bring the characteristic raw powerhouse sound that made Sia famous with hits like “Chandelier.” The rest of the songs, however, feel a little too average, adhering to a familiar pop music formula.

This Is Acting is ultimately an eclectic mix of pop styles that at times feel too experimental and out of character for the Australian singer and songwriter, yet she delivers on confident and grounded vocals throughout.

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