On Sia Furler’s fifth album, We Are Born, the crooner ditches the mysterious, breathy, downtempo songs that put her 2004 single “Breathe Me” on everyone’s radar. Instead, Australian-born Sia borrows heavily from ’80s pop standards, infusing the 13-song set with happy guitar hooks, synth attacks, Roland 808 beats and, heck, even a Madonna cover. In interviews, Sia said she always wanted to make a shallow pop album—and she succeeded. We Are Born could easily be a disco album, more in the vein of Lady Gaga than Zero 7. There’s still the occasional soulful jazz song that gained her comparisons to Amy Winehouse, but We Are Born is definitely upbeat and dancey. (Some songs are eerily reminiscent of “Sledgehammer”-era Peter Gabriel than anyone else.) Sometimes the set’s uptempo-ness feels forced. The opener “The Fight” (from which the album title/lyric is from), for example, sounds like it used every pop standard meme known to man: sped-up lyrics, marimbas, a minor-key bridge and a giant, epic chorus. The result is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mess. Still, there is a lot of ear candy. “Bring Night” is a hand clapper, a sunshiney ditty that makes you want to dance around your room all day. “The Co-Dependent,” which she’s performed at recent shows, is as brilliant on the record as it is on YouTube. Sia’s cover of “Oh Father,” taken from Like A Prayer, one of Madonna’s best albums, is a respectful rendering, breathing new life into the song as it retains the solemnity of the original.
Sia’s We Are Born is scheduled for a June 8 release. She will perform Sat, April 17, at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival.