Sia's debut 1000 Forms Of Fear was a thrilling journey through daring lyrics and innovative soundscapes; but if you were expecting more from the Australian singer-songwriter's follow up, you'll be let down. This Is Acting, a collection of songs she wrote that were rejected by other singers. It is a hushed, tamer version of its predecessor.
Many of the songs, like opener Bird Set Free, Alive and Unstoppable, follow a formula: low verse, high-pitched pre-chorus, big drums to welcome the chorus. Dance piece Move Your Body and the reggaeton Cheap Thrills are groovy songs that will no doubt be popular on the dancefloor, but offer no surprises.
Still, Sia's a great lyricist with one of the strongest voices currently around. But while the tenderness of One Million Bullets ("Cause I'd give my life for one of your belly laughs") entrances, House On Fire and Sweet Design evoke only shadows of the euphoria and passion found in earlier songs.
By the time closing ballad Space Between has arrived, Sia sounds exhausted. "We lay hollow in the emptiness," she sings - an apt reflection of the listener's disappointment.