Sia, a contributing vocalist for British electronica artists like Jamiroquai and Zero 7, recently released her third studio effort, Some People Have Real Problems. True to the album title, this record is a collection of flavorless to the point of phony pop songs that makes Natalie Imbruglia look as wild and groundbreaking as Iggy Pop. Despite being a vocals-centered disc, most of Sia's lyrics are inaudible, which might do well for artists exuding a clear musical intention (in the vein of Patti Smith, for instance), but her muddled lines slip out of her mouth like half-conscious drool. Sadly, you almost feel grateful for the humdrum, faux-sultry blues numbers, a relief from more upbeat but lyrically embarrassing tracks like "Academia" (chock-full of subtraction and squared similes!) and "Playground" (complete with seesaw symbolism!).
Problems' instrumental arrangements are equally bland, adding little more than space-filling muzak, save for Sia's rendition of Ray Davies' heart-aching gem, "I Go to Sleep." Unfortunately, she fails to add anything new to the Kinks classic, even falling short of emulating the masterful talent Chrissie Hynde exhibited when she covered it. Instead Sia sucks dry every bit of poetic inspiration until the song resembles the rest of this beige-colored record. When you combine the liner notes' played-out, color-crazy wackiness and retro-pixilated aesthetic with the cringing lack of artistry packaged inside, it becomes clear Sia is simply a waste of time. It's barely 2008, but this painfully homogeneous record might already take the cake for the most boring record of the year.