29 June 2010

Scissor Sisters: "Night Work"

Been away for a bit, and as I always find myself saying… life, life, life…. Hopefully things have calmed down a bit and I will be able to focus on the blog once again (I pray). And what a great album to come back to write about; it’s one of those summer albums that you know is going to get played in the iPod over and over again.

I was instantly hooked the first time I heard Scissor Sisters’ cover of Pink Flyod’s “Comfortably Numb”; what followed, when listening to the self-tilted debut album (2004), were campy, tongue-in-cheek numbers of sexual decadence to mixed metaphors of crystal meth and Oz. Full of Elton John and disco revival references, the same trend would follow on the second album, “Ta-Dah” (2006). And though enjoyable and fun, making us to dance to a song about not wanting to dance, how many such albums could a band make before leaving you wanting for something different? Well, teaming up with producer Stuart Price [member of Zoot Woman and producer to such acts as Frankmusik, Keane, Killers, Madonna, Missy Eilliott, and New Order], out goes the Elton John references, in comes savvy euro-disco and electronic references, tongue-in-cheek, but no camp, and still sensually/sexually loaded, “Night Work” (28 June 2010) opens up a new era for Scissor Sisters and will prove that this New York City band has quite a few new tricks up their sleeves.

The irony of the band is that they are named after a lesbian sexual position (use your imagination!), and yet the band has no lesbians in it – though the fold does include three gay men and a female-female impersonator. But that is the thing about the band – they are a study in contradiction. It is a world where hedonism truly equates with personal agency, where sexual escapades challenge social norms, and where humor (whether campy or not) is the lens to see and criticize the world. Nothing has changed. Opening with the titular track, the old tongue-in-cheek welcomes you in: “When I was a young boy, I pretended I had a job; my daddy said, “Pretty woman, Mama married into the mob.”” And you are left to wonder just what kind of “Night Work” is going on that needs a midnight train. But what is different is the music; closer to earlier track “Electroblix,” it is a straightforward electronic number with a glam guitar rift. Soon after, you come across the lead single, “Fire With Fire.” Starting as a non-Elton John piano ballet, this song immediately finds its rhythm and electronic elements. A sort of anthem, to fight “Fire with fire, through desire, desire, sire, desire, through your desire,” this is arguably the best single that Scissor Sisters have released to date. Of course the naysayers will say, “Where’s the camp? Where’s the double entendres?” Well, bands grow up and mature, and as a result so does their music and lyrics; that does not mean that those early lyrical hooks are not there; they are, just more intelligently: “Love was just something you found to add to your collection…”

Jake Shears’ falsetto is better than ever, while Babydaddy’s bass playing and arrangements are even cleverer. Del Marquis’ guitar playing as distinct as ever, and Ana Matronic, well, is Ana Matronic, the secret weapon of the band, that adds a sensual, sexually charged element that the band really capitalized this time around. Though we are sorry to see Paddy Boom leave the fold, Randy Real brings a new sense of percussion and drum arrangements that breathe new life into their music. Under the guidance of their new producer, the band is able to unfurl in new directions, that are not so distinct from what they have done before in their distant past, but are done with more sophistication and snazzier than before.

So why should you listen to Scissor Sisters’ “Night Work?” One, they are New York – that sophisticated surface that is sensual and alluring once the surface is scratched. Two, they are one of the few New York City bands that continue to place New York as a center of creative musical scenes. Three, you shouldn’t be a homophobe and should be able to get a kick out of their lyrical antics. And four, the album kicks ass. And of course, this is the main reason you should give “Night Work” a listen. This is a no-brainer: summer time demands fun music, and not the dreary gloom of winter and fall. Throw on a pair of shorts or something slutty for a club, listen to “Night Work,” boogy your ass off to it, and realize that deep down inside, we are all Scissor Sisters.

Track Listing:
1. Night Work
2. Whole New Way
3. Fire With Fire
4. Any Which Way
5. Harder You Get
6. Running Out
7. Something Like This
8. Skin This Cat
9. Skin Tight
10. Sex and Violence
11. Night Life
12. Invisible Light

Keep up with Scissor Sisters at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is their video for “Fire With Fire” from the ScissorSistersVEVO YouTube Channel.

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