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Sia’s new release fails to inspire

Fri., July 11, 2014, midnight


“1000 Forms of Fear”

Grade: B

You may not know Sia Furler. But you’ve certainly heard her work – from Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Beyonce’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 already has 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.

BRAID “No Coast”

Grade: B-plus

Let the Great Emo Revival continue! Braid, one of the genre’s pioneers, is back with “No Coast” (Topshelf), its first album since 1998’s “Frame and Canvas.” By picking up where they left off, the Illinois band’s combination of hard-core punk guitar virtuosity and emotional lyrics now sounds a little retro. “Put Some Wings on That Kid,” even with its complicated rhythms, shows where Fall Out Boy came from. The anthemic “This Is Not a Revolution,” mixing Modest Mouse and barely veiled rage about income inequality, shows Braid still has plenty of great new ideas.

Hot song

The great Martha Wash can now celebrate dance hits in each of the past five decades, thanks to her new single, “I’m Not Coming Down” (Purple Rose). And the singer, best known for “It’s Raining Men” and “Everybody, Everybody,” may see another crossover with this catchy, uplifting anthem that makes the most of her soaring, gospel-inspired vocals.

New in stores

Dream Theater’s “The Studio Albums 1992-2011” (Roadrunner)

Judas Priest’s “Redeemer of Souls” (Epic)

Chicago’s “Chicago XXXVI” (Frontiers)

Richard Marx’s “Beautiful Goodbye” (Zanzibar)

Dirty Heads’ “Sound of Change” (Five Seven)


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