‘Music’, the first film written and directed by pop powerhouse Sia, was beset by controversy before it was even released. First she was criticised for casting non-autistic Maddie Ziegler as an autistic character, then she had to apologise for scenes depicting the use of restraints on autistic people.
This soundtrack album is a lot more competent, but once you’ve watched the film, it’s difficult to separate Sia’s vaguely uplifting sentiments from her ham-fisted depiction of autism and misguided decision to centre Zu’s redemption story. It doesn’t help that her songwriting formula is starting in places to feel stale: ‘Miracles’ is essentially a decaf version of her 2016 smash ‘Cheap Thrills’; ‘Eye to Eye’ is let down by a predictable chorus melody; and ‘Saved My Life’ is a bombastic power ballad that recalls every other bombastic power ballad she’s written, which is presumably why co-writer Dua Lipa didn’t end up releasing it. A certain sloppiness is beginning to creep in, too. “We are like grains of sand, better to be holdin’ hands,” Sia sings nonsensically on ‘Floating Through Space’, an otherwise very effective reunion with her ‘Titanium’ collaborator David Guetta.
Thankfully, Sia’s talent still shines through elsewhere: ‘Courage To Change’ boasts a shamelessly enormous chorus that only she could get away with, while ‘Hey Boy’ is a dancehall bop with an infectious hint of grit – she’s said it was written with Rihanna in mind, and you can tell. The lovely, Labrinth-produced ballad ‘Beautiful Things Can Happen’ shows a welcome modicum of restraint.
Still, the highlights aren’t enough to make this album feel as vital as top-notch Sia efforts – namely, 2014’s ‘1000 Forms Of Fear’ or 2016’s ‘This Is Acting’. For the most part, these are reasonably catchy pop songs that become forgettable after their last chorus. Given the response to the film they feature in, that’s probably just as well.
Release date: February 12
Record label: Monkey Puzzle / Atlantic