Sisters doin’ it for themselves
FLAMBOYANT New York dance- pop band Scissor Sisters manage to sound uplifting even when they are moody.
Their fourth album is packed full of summer- time fun, a mostly effortless blend of disco jams and pop ballads.
On the surface it looks like they were aiming squarely at the dance floor, with German techno DJ ( and emerging pop and rock producer) Boys Noize tweaking the studio knobs for three quarters of the record.
But interestingly, Magic Hour often leans towards ballads instead of dancefloor numbers.
It also appears the Sisters were hoping for a return to chart success, collaborating with a slew of hit- makers including John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Calvin Harris, Diplo and Stuart Price, plus rising rap star Azealia Banks.
It says a lot about the strength and songwriting skill of the Sisters that despite hiring all of these big names, Magic Hour’s material sounds 99 per cent like them with only tiny flourishes of the outside parties.
Inevitable, with Williams, is a perfect example. It is infectious, laidback and groovy, with a perfect dose of sleaze.
Only the Horses is ready for UK chart success, with a cheesy blend of poptrance melodies and commercial house rhythms that is just so ‘‘ now’’.
Baby Come Home is similarly chart smart with its joyous pianos and soulful disco. It’s a not too distant cousin of the act’s past hits like Take Your Mama or Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.
Year of Living Dangerously slows the pace from a trot back to a swagger. A well- executed song about searching for your place in the world, it burns slowly but brightly.
The record should end with the stunning highlight Secret Life of Letters. It’s full of melodrama and sophistication, artfully rolled into a song about writer’s block or bad relationships.
Unfortunately duds Somewhere and F - - - Yeah pour water on what could have been a strong finish.
Back to the good stuff, there are two songs that stand out because they’re so different to the rest. They play back- toback mid- album.
Let’s Have a Kiki is an unhinged and dirty ’ 90s tribal house- style track. Not much in the way of melody, it is just a few synth stabs over lots of drums and attitude- filled spoken vocals. Anyone else need to consult urbandictionary. com to find out what a ‘‘ kiki’’ is?
Then there is Shady Love, a tune the band may have included for no other reason than to surprise fans. Featuring a guest spot by Ms Banks, the song’s style seems very much inspired by her electrorap hit 212 but filtered through the Sisters’ lens.