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|Scissor Sisters - 'Night Work'|
|30-06-2010 19:27 | 0 comment(s)|
| LONG before Lady Gaga was inviting the freaks to join her at the Monster Ball, Scissor Sisters were pushing open the doors of New York's underground club scene and inviting everyone in. And everyone came – young, old, gay, straight, hen parties, exot
ADVERTISEMENT ic creatures and strait-laced married couples all converged at their place for the feelgood party. With their euphoric, erudite blend of disco, pop, rock and house music, the Sisters surpassed expectations to become the UK's favourite band of 2004-5 and kept on dancing (even when they didn't feel like dancing) until the hangover set in some time around 2007.
Even though the bubble had to burst some time, they probably didn't intend to spend quite so much time hiding away in a darkened room before emerging with their third album. After 18 months of work, they scrapped an entire album of material. Disillusioned frontman Jake Shears escaped to Berlin, as good a place as any to reconnect with his clubbing roots, and returned to start from scratch, with Madonna's producer, Stuart Price, co-helming sessions.
The result of their partnership is Night Work, a nocturnal transmission which is not for the kiddies. The bittersweet, skyscraping ballads which peppered the first two albums are out – justifiably, though arguably to the detriment of the dynamics and scope of the record – as the band train their sights on the dancefloor, while allowing their eyes to wander off to the dark crannies of the nightclub. This is a hedonistic, at times sleazy clubland odyssey, like a hardball take on Soft Cell's Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, which parties with intent, even positing clubbing (and other nocturnal pursuits) as a vocational duty on the title track.
In this respect, current single Fire With Fire sounds like the work of a different band, its big bland pop/rock radio chorus closer to The Killers than the Sisters. But if that's how they feel they have to lure in the punters, then so be it.
Shears gets down to the salient business, as it were, on Whole New Way, leering that "I've found a whole new way to love you" – and he ain't talking sentimentally. Musically, they've found a whole new catalogue to plunder and, not for the last time, the spirit of Thriller-era Michael Jackson is given a steely buff.
Some of Thriller's hokey creepiness seeps into the Teflon electro rock of Harder You Get, though it mostly evokes the lurid seediness of Iggy Pop's Nightclubbing. You can also hear the Hansa Studios influence on the title track, which would not be out of place on one of Bowie's Berlin-hewn albums of the late 1970s. The band are in more of a New York state of mind on Any Which Way. It's impossible to overstate how much this track steals from Saturday Night Fever-era Bee Gees, but it's a masterclass in pastiche, with its disco strings, the fuzzy pump of the bassline, electro-jazz synths and Shears' helium vocals.
For the first time, his co-vocalist, the blessed Ana Matronic, gets to interject with a lascivious come-on. She plays the natural-born predator like a diva, sensually shaping her lips round her intentions to "find that man that is the right shade of bottle tan, a man that smells like cocoa butter and cash". Resistance is futile. Even though it only amounts to a cameo appearance, it's a better use of her seductive talents than the underwhelming Skin This Cat.
There is more skilful thievery on Running Out, co-written with Santigold. Taking its metronomic cue from the new wave electro stylings of Devo or Sparks in their Beat The Clock days, it passes ominous comment with its robotic hookline "we're running out – of drugs, of patience, of air". They are also willing slaves to the rhythm on Something Like This, a robo-disco number about making mechanical connections on the dancefloor, which could pass for one of Britney's hipper efforts, while the rush-hour pulse of Night Life draws from the terribly 1980s template of the Flashdance/Top Gun soundtracks.
Despite the absence of MOR ballads this time round, the influence of Elton John lives on in the pop grooves of Skin Tight, one of those Scissor Sisters' stealth tunes which doesn't make a big show of itself, but benignly takes up residence in your head.
They save their most epic statement for last. Invisible Light is a serious clubber's anthem, dressed up like a retro-futuristic Bee Gees, but favouring a controlled electro simmer over all-out euphoria. Its one hammy indulgence is the casting of Sir Ian McKellen in the same authoritative thesping role as Vincent Price on Thriller or Richard Burton in The War of The Worlds, who has way too much fun intoning about "the theatre of excess", "painted whores" and "sexual gladiators" in his spoken word interlude. Despite its ambition, it will better come to life in its intended habitat – the nightclub.
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