PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Sia: We Are Born

Sia Furler births infectious dance-pop on her fifth outing.


We Are Born

Label: Jive
US Release Date: 2010-06-21
UK Release Date: 2010-08-30

On Sia's We Are Born, the Australian chanteuse switches gears from her more somber early work and creates an infectiously happy dance-pop album. There are many factors contributing to the album's lighthearted jouissance -- Furler is in a serious relationship with JD Samson (of Le Tigre); she was inspired by her icons Cyndi Lauper and Madonna; the songs were co-written by Dan Carey; Nick Valensi (The Strokes) plays electric guitar; and the album was produced by Greg Kurstin, who's produced similarly energetic albums for the likes of Lily Allen. From its insanely catchy first single, "Clap Your Hands", to the dance-command that is "Bright Night", this is an album for happy times. Better still, this is an album that creates happy times as Sia cuts her teeth on a jangly record unlike anything she would have created during her days with Zero 7.

While the music seems tailor-made for Sia's voice, it's that distinctive voice which drives the album. Moreover, Sia's delivery of her endlessly melodic lyrics sets her apart from many of her contemporaries. While some songs fall victim to a formula of speak-singing verses and soaring choruses (even "Clap Your Hands" and the album opener, "The Fight"), that formula works and even lends this record a cohesive quality it might otherwise lack. The downside to that is such cohesiveness can also make for monotony, and by the time listeners get to the ninth track, "Cloud", the formula is old, and there is a thirst for greater variety, as well as fresher sounding songs.

Sia's tip of her hat to Madonna and Lauper is obvious throughout the album, particularly on "Never Gonna Leave Me", which could easily be a lost '80s track. The same could be said for the most rocking song, "Bright Night". With its repeated "bring night / bring night on / maybe if I'm lucky I'll end up in your arms" sung over hand-clap-esque synths and electric guitar fun, this is another track full of '80s glory. Sia even covers Madonna's "O Father", though it unfortunately falls flat due to schmaltzy music and surprisingly thin vocals.

Though this album is bombastic enough that "understated" is a relative term, the understated tracks are some of the most successful. "Stop Trying" is a simple pop song: "We like you / this is a game already won / stop trying", goes the chorus as it flows seamlessly through the verses. "Be Good to Me", in which Sia channels Amy Winehouse, is more of a ballad, and it helps showcase the more gravelly end of Furler's powerful pipes. "Codependent", while still an eighties-inflected dance song, is still a refreshing change from the formula which informs much of the album. An album highlight, "I'm In Here" is classic Sia, her slow, warbling voice in its classic form.

It's nice to see that Sia can leave behind her moody, winsome sound, here. This is a fine album for easy summer listening, but the formulaic aspect of the songs keep it from being a classic. But that doesn't mean this record isn't still a lot of fun.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.