This Is Alive contains tracks written by Sia that were initially rejected by the likes of Rihanna, Katy Perry, and such. Since she is now big enough to release these songs on her own, hey, waste not, want not! Given the fact that these are cast-off tracks, it’s not surprising that the album on the whole lacks a common theme.
That’s not to say that the songs are awful, though. Sia’s music, when put together in one place, reveals that there is a very repetitive formula in way too many of the tracks, and it’s the same thing here. This one is basically an extension of 1000 Forms of Fear – the songs here are in the same structure and key. Have the dear lady slur her way through the verse, and then launch into some loud babble-sing chorus with a repetitive hook that clings to the brain like a bloody parasite that will not be dislodged, repeat and rinse. If we extend the formula to her music videos and live performances, well, then skin a pomeranian over her head and let her sing while that creepy girl dances around her while acting like she’s on the verge of some epileptic breakdown.
Is this a bad thing? No, but it’s leads to a predictable listen in which I find myself searching hard for reasons to like a certain song. Okay, One Million Bullets is nice because there are moments when she sounds just like Cyndi Lauper, bless her. Move Your Body is so obviously a Rihanna-reject – it’s a catchy tune, but it sounds like too many previous songs Rihanna and Sia have done before. Cheap Thrills sounds like any random song from Sia’s repertoire, and it seems tailor-made for Rihanna, but Sia’s screechy slurring ends up inadvertently giving the song a tinge of bleak nihilism that is absent in the words. My favorite song is Fist Fighting a Sandstorm, but that’s because it has such a rousing chorus that is perfect to sing aloud off-key to. But it still conforms to the same formula that tars every song on this album – slurry chorus, incredibly and annoyingly catchy chorus, let’s bring that creepy dancing girl here, and let’s hunt down and skin a Bichon Frisé, because Sia needs a new wig.
So, This Is Acting. If you have heard enough of her songs, you have already heard the songs here before you even play them. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on how you still enjoy that formula, so proceed with the right amount of caution.