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Sia's Pop Album
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30 Jun 2010 EST

- by Drew Kolar, Staff Writer

The best season for music is upon us, and if you’re looking for the best summer album, look no further than Australia’s own Sia Furler, who released her fourth studio album on June 22, just in time for the beginning of summer (at least here in North America).

Originally known for slow, soulful jazz and heartbreaking ballads like “Breathe Me,” which was featured in the emotional ending to the show Six Feet Under, Sia takes a new direction on We Are Born. While her previous albums were more in the vein of Dido or Sarah McLachlan, We Are Born is Sia’s most upbeat album to date, inspired, as she has said, by Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and her relationship with JD Samson of Le Tigre.

Many songs use bright guitar cords, dance beats, positive lyrics and there is a surprising abundance of children singing backup, like on the intro to the album, “The Fight.”

The lead single “Clap Your Hands” (or as Sia has said, “Crap Your Pants”) is probably the best introduction to her new sound.  The track, as with most of the songs, has a playful pop edge and a quirky video featuring Sia’s head on many neon, black-lit puppets like a koala, mermaid and what seems to be a giant bird.

The first few tracks in general are very bubbly.  While her lyrics aren’t always easy to decipher, the feeling and message is apparent. “Stop Trying,” for example, is Sia speaking to a friend, telling them to not try hard as they’re already liked by everyone. 

It’s clear throughout this album that Sia wants to inspire positivity and love.

The album has actually been long-awaited by fans, as the first song to appear was “You’ve Changed” back in December.  Originally a more electronic, club-friendly collaboration with DJ Lauren Flax, the song was re-recorded for Sia’s album, and a video was rushed due to its chart success in Australia.  “You’ve Changed” is yet another fun-filled dance track about an ex-lover who has “changed for the better.” Many of the songs have a happier message than Sia’s past releases, though some still feature more hurt or heartfelt lyrics over the pop beats.

“Hurting Me Now” is a great example of how Sia fits emotional lyrics to the new sound.  The song is about being in a relationship where her significant other cuts her down without even realizing it, yet the music is still upbeat.  A similarly odd mix is found in the song “Cloud,” which is supposed to be the “angry” song on the album, yet the anger is also hidden by bright-sounding chords and beats, even when Sia says she is “a dark cloud.”

“I’m In Here” is perhaps the only track most reminiscent of Sia’s previous, more emotional album, Some People Have Real Problems.  It’s a slow piano ballad with just a few electronic effects and beats to keep it moving. Another more soulful track is “Be Good To Me,” which showcases Sia’s jazzy side. The cover of Madonna’s “Oh Father” is another slow track, but it is made into a bit of an electronic waltz versus the original’s mix of piano and strings.  It also lends one final positive message to the album about escaping and growing from abuse.

On a more upbeat note is “Never Gonna Leave Me,” which is just an all-around happy tune about finally finding the right one in a relationship.  Meanwhile, “Big Girl, Little Girl” shows Sia taking on a more sisterly role, telling an unnamed other girl that they could be friends if only she could see. This is yet another cheerful-sounding song, but it breaks down at the end again into Sia’s signature piano ballad style.  “Bring Night” is also a great, playful pop song about getting ready to go out and hit the town.

As seen in her live performances and videos, Sia is a quirky girl with a big heart and a love for dancing and making people smile.  Though she has said she suffers from a panic disorder and over-sensitivity, this album seems to reflect her fun side.  Anyone that can make a joke song called “Pee On You” and perform it live is obviously out to bring smiles to fans’ faces.

Sia has recently mentioned she’ll still write and record but probably not tour after the last bits of promotion for We Are Born, but she is still making a few more appearances, including some Lilith Fair dates.  She has co-written songs for Christina Aguilera for the recent album Bionic, as well as a track in the upcoming film Burlesque.  For her sake, a break may be necessary, but with the awesomeness of We Are Born, it’s going to be hard to not want more.

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