Sia is an amazing artist. Her first big gig was as a backing vocalist for Jamiroquai, but she went on to create heart-wrenching ballads like “Breathe Me,” plus memorably gave Zero 7 a silky smooth pick-me-up on “Destiny,” “Distractions,” and “Somersault.” Her dream was to write hit songs for others, and she’s crushed that goal, too, penning way too many Top 10 smashes to list here. Sure, most of those chart-toppers are awful, but it’s an amazing paycheck and certainly still takes plenty of talent to produce so many of them. Unfortunately, her ability to craft quality music seems to have suffered thanks to the Hot 100′s allure of time-efficiency and the almighty dollar. Plus, perhaps, writing a bit too much for Rihanna has taken away part of Sia’s unique voice. At least that’s the impression given on 1000 Forms of Fear.

Chandelier

When did Sia decide to mimic Rihanna at every possible turn, both vocally and in production? It’s a shame, as her simultaneous celebration of drunken hedonism and long look in the mirror is lyrically stronger than most of the other thousand tracks with a similar message: [LISTEN]

Chandelier

Big Girls Cry

Sia’s never been one to shy away from admitting when she’s “small and needy,” although she seems to have recently traded that understated beauty for wubby bass and dubstep snares on “Chandelier.” Here she laments the hustling woman’s loneliness over a similarly heavy and EDM-tinged ballad: [LISTEN]

Big Girls Cry

Burn the Pages

It’s still jarring – complex indie chords, boilerplate Top-40 production, and lyricism that bounces between the two styles. The overall package just screams “respected Zach Braff-soundtrack-worthy artist goes all in to cross over,” but it’s up to the teeny-boppers to decide if it works:

Burn the Pages

Eye of the Needle

More over-the-top, in-your-face pop from Sia here, landing in an awkward place that might alienate her fan base, and probably won’t crossover to true pop heads due to her lacking sex symbol status. It still scratches the vague melodrama itch, except for the irritating “Whoa-oh-oh” repetition: [LISTEN]

Eye of the Needle

Hostage

Sia suffers some sort of Stockholm syndrome, if you’ll forgive the alliteration. Her pseudo-ethnic squeaks impress less as ‘passionate’ than ‘irritating,’ though – even Lana Del Rey would blush at these pouts. Otherwise, it’s a decent, driving pop-rock jam with a fairly cute message: [LISTEN]

Hostage

Straight for the Knife

Speaking of LDR, Sia’s cinematically dark cat-and-mouse romance here sounds like it could’ve been possibly the best single on Ultraviolence, only with better, less hipster-ish lyricism. Sia’s vocal styling fits very well here, too – she’s proved that she can do pop without going full radio: [LISTEN]

Straight for the Knife

Fair Game

This is the Sia we remember and love. Like the previous track, she again sees her pseudo-relationship as a power struggle, one in which she previously refused to play by the rules. Some beautiful strings and marimba give this heavy summer backbeat more of a draw. This should have been a single:

Fair Game

Elastic Heart

Sia wants to “fight this war without weapons,” and thinks she can bend without snapping under the pressure of heartbreak. Similarly, the track’s four-chord, quiet/loud verse-chorus dub-trap construction is predictably formulaic enough to test one’s patience, but is still worth a listen or two: [LISTEN]

Elastic Heart

Free the Animal

Sia goes back to her Rihanna-esque ways on this funky track, copping the main hook from Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” and a similar lyric vibe Katy Perry’s already-exhausted “Roar,” all before throwing in some completely erroneous glitch effects. No thanks:

Free the Animal

Fire Meet Gasoline

This Girl (Sia) is on Fire,” with some “gasoline” and Jepsen-y vocal quirks added for good measure. This track, like too much of this album, just feels like every female-singer pop tactic thrown at the canvas simultaneously – although, that’s what most Top 40 stuff is, anyway, so maybe it works?: [LISTEN]

Fire Meet Gasoline

Cellophane

Sia’s echoing cry for help is again undercut by the Rihanna-style “ay, ay, ay” pre-chorus. Thanks to her past, there’s no denying her vocal, songwriting, and lyrical talents. But, her massive success in writing brain-deadhighly-repetitive radio garbage for other artists has taken a creative toll:

Cellophane

Dressed in Black

Once again, this over-produced entrant into the most-overused chord progression vault just sounds like a Rihanna track. Even if it didn’t, this subtle-as-a-brick melodrama, punctuated by a few extra minutes of “wooo, whoa, whoaaas” still wouldn’t hit as hard as it’s meant to: [LISTEN]

Dressed in Black