A funny thing happened to NYC glam-poppers Scissor Sisters on their way to recording their third album, Night Work -- the band scrapped 18 month's worth of effort in order to finalize the album. Lead singer/utterly charismatic young man Jake Shears noted that the year and half of work left him "a bit cold," thus opening the way for Night Work to emerge.
Buoyed by the vintage Scissor Sisters-feeling "Invisible Light," Night Work picks right the hell up where 2006's Ta-Dah left off. What became an endearing take on pop music (the band's self-titled 2004 debut) had become a bit stagnant with Ta-Dah, yet that stagnancy was some of the poppiest, disco-tinged stagnancy in recent memory. Fast forward four years -- minus those aforementioned 18 months -- and Shears, Ana Matronic, Babydaddy and co. have come roaring back with another collection of disco-riffic tunes.
What the critics are saying:
Entertainment Weekly: ''I think I need a rubber tonight,'' offers Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears. New York's disco-
new wave party people are in freak mode on their third disc Night Work, dropping crass come-ons and slutty entendres like parade confetti (gay, straight, you name it). The songs are pretty spicy too, mixing Elton John, the Bee Gees, and Depeche Mode in strobe-light heaven.
To further emphasize the point, this less shrill and better-crafted album features a superb Robert Mapplethorpe photograph of the taut buttocks of dancer Peter Reed. Night Work feels, then, "like Aids never happened" (Shears's words), recalibrating Scissor Sister's ooh-er-missus romp-pop into a more forthright, sexualised, synthetic and satisfying form. Abetted by Stuart Price (Madonna), Scissor Sisters's default Eltonian honky tonk fades out in favour of artfully deployed electronics. "Running Out" is pure early 80s pop while the pert "Something Like This" borrows little electronic droplets from Kraftwerk.
Night Work's unswerving focus also acts to its detriment, however. The problem isn't so much the album's pacing, but more its limited emotional range. On earlier tracks like It Can't Come Quickly Enough and Laura, the Sisters showed they could affect the heart as well as the feet. But the softer, more sensitive side of the band doesn't get a look in on Night Work, an omission that's particularly galling in light of highly dispensable filler like Harder You Get and Skin This Cat.
Still, if Night Work set out to remind listeners what they loved about Scissor Sisters in the first place, it succeeds. If it had a couple more absolute killer songs then it would be an unqualified triumph but, as it stands, Night Work will do more than nicely.
Elsewhere, the album bustles with double entendres (in Jake Shears' world, guns are always suggestively shooting and apples being grabbed) backed by squelching, rutting, frivolous disco. A lot of these songs are great fun - the adrenaline shot of the title-track, the slinky Moroder meow of Skin This Cat, the sleazy electro swagger of Harder You Get - but rarely more than that. And on songs like Any Which Way and Something Like That the innuendos become irksome and the kitschy, tongue-in-cheek production becomes pain-in-arse.