Just in time for its 10th anniversary this coming January is the vinyl debut of Sia’s fourth album, Some People Have Real Problems. The album, which started to cement the Australian singer in the mind of listeners the world over, is quite interesting, because while it did quite well in Australia, and nearly cracked the Billboard Top 25 albums in the United States, the artist would soon after go on hiatus following the release of her next LP, We Are Born.
Of course, then comes her work on Alicia Keys’ “Titanium,” the smash success of “Chandelier,” and the series of videos with Maddie Ziegler, but that was all years in the future when Some People was released in 2008. This is a decidedly more straightforward album than the genre-hopping 1000 Forms of Fear, and hews pretty closely to either ballads or standard pop structures.
Case in point is the cover of Ray Davies’ “I Go to Sleep,” which has been recorded by a number of artists going all the way back to 1965, including Cher, the Pretenders, and Peggy Lee. Sia’s cover doesn’t differ too drastically from any of the other takes, although it does reach for the rafters in a way which brings to mind something like a James Bond theme. It’s slow, moody, and beautiful, but as the contemporaneous Pitchfork review by Liz Coville ably stated, it’s “as if Norah Jones were going about stealing Feist’s audience.”
The cuts with Beck are nice enough, but at no point does the album really break out of the mid-tempo range in which it comfortably finds itself. “The Girl You Lost to Cocaine” is the rare exception, but it comes across more as a light take on the bluesy declarations of someone like Bonnie Raitt than anything actually declarative. The same goes for “Electric Bird” — even though it features a memorable horn section, the pacing never varies from the sleepy-time rhythm which persists for the album’s duration.
Maybe it’s damning with faint praise, but the best Some People Have Real Problems gets is that it’s nice. It’s not bad, but by no means does it ever really demand to be put on the turntable and played.
Both LPs sound pretty good. When the songs get bigger or louder, there’s noticeable clipping in the vocals, especially on tracks like “Soon We’ll Be Found” or “Electric Bird.” You can definitely hear the ragged edges as it flutters against the limits of the pressing. When you’re playing Some People through a stereo, it’s fine, but this pressing isn’t great for headphone listens at all. Quieter tracks — “Lullaby,” for instance — fare better, but even it’s still mastered far too loudly.
The record is pressed on black vinyl, and is housed in a gatefold jacket. It has printed inner sleeves, as well. It’s pretty standard weight throughout, both on the vinyl and jacket material, so it’s nice, but by no means fancy. It’s a pretty solid package, although the MS Paint graphics that dominate looked a little more charming on the compact disc. Blown up to 12″ by 12″, they just look cheap.
Some People Have All the Problems is available on vinyl from Hear Music.