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POP

She's not feeling sorry for herself

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January 15, 2008

Sia

Some People Have Real Problems (Monkey Puzzle)

When the hauntingly poignant "Breathe Me" was featured in HBO's "Six Feet Under" finale in 2005, its author, Sia, shot to acclaim. Rather than be relegated as that year's Dido, the 32-year-old Australian has soldiered on, and her third album shakes up that electronic siren sound and aching introspection. "Some People Have Real Problems" reveals the other Sia: plucky, bubbly, and growling purposefully through assertive pop songs like the catchy "Little Black Sandals" and the strident "Girl You Lost to Cocaine." Both are odes to knowing when to quit bad relationships. Though the title openly declares that dwelling on the trifling tragedy of romance is self-indulgent, Sia wisely sticks with what she knows: love and loss, acceptance and hope. On the dramatic torch song "You Have Been Loved" she insists and implores, "You will be loved by someone good." And she crumbles in her powerful cover of the Pretenders hit "I Go to Sleep," which keenly evokes a cold, empty bed. The album's credits are far from empty, though: her sizable list of contributors includes backing singers such as old pal Beck and actors Giovanni Ribisi and Jason Lee. Moving to Los Angeles possibly accounts for those drop-ins. Tellingly, the jaunty little ditty "Playground" ends abruptly with Sia giggling. It ran its course, and she lets it go. [Linda Laban]

ESSENTIAL "Lentil"

Tell us about the good old days

She's not feeling sorry for herself

Too bad it's not 'Something' good

They got the beat

Another side

of the good Reverend

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