Scissor Sisters: Night Work


RIYL: The Bee Gees, Hercules and Love Affair, Giorgio Moroder

The Scissor Sisters were putting the finishing touches on their third album when a funny thing happened – they realized they hated it. So they scrapped it and started from scratch. The Beatles did this once; the end result was Abbey Road. Then again, Duran Duran did this too, and the end result was Red Carpet Massacre. Results, as you can see, may vary.

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Thankfully, this is no massacre. Night Work contains all of the band’s trademarks – the discotastic bass lines, the finest falsetto work since the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack – but it comes with an extra dose of sleaze. This is easily the randiest album the Sisters have made to date (“Take me in front of my parents,” singer Ana Matronic begs at one point), yet strangely it also contains some of their most conservative songs. It’s as if the band has recognized that they will not achieve the superstar status in the States that they enjoy in the UK and Australia and decided to let their freak flag fly – for all the advancements we’ve made as a society in terms of gay rights, the Hot 100 is downright hostile to openly gay acts, certain American Idol winners excepted – but still gave it one last shot by writing a couple songs that sounded “less gay.” It should surprise no one that those are the album’s weakest moments.

That’s right, anthemic Killers wannabe “Fire with Fire,” we’re looking in your direction. Besides containing one of the laziest choruses singer Jake Shears has ever written (it basically repeats ‘fire’ and ‘desire’ over again), the song is like a rented tux, with the band getting dressed up for an event they’d rather not attend. Even odder is the title track, which sounds like a standard Scissor Sisters song but tries a little too hard to sound like a standard Scissor Sisters song. With those two songs out of the way by track three, the album takes off from there, from the ultra-funky “Any Which Way” to the Kraftwerk-riffing “Something Like This.” Shears even does a remarkably effective Chris Difford impression on the rockin’ “Harder You Get,” but the album’s final two tracks are its finest. “Nightlife” is fast but moody and sports the album’s best chorus, while “Invisible Light,” which features a spoken-word interlude from Sir Ian McKellen, builds into a dizzying, Trevor Horn-style climax like a next-gen “Welcome to the Pleasuredome.”

Night Work is a lean, mean dancing machine of an album, eschewing the theatrical element from their earlier work in favor of full-on disco bliss. All bands should be required by law to nearly implode if it results in more albums like this. (Downtown 2010)

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