So, this is my first crack at a proper music review. In-depth discussion of the nuances of an artist’s latest album has never been a strong suit of mine. Usually my litmus test for “good” music is whether or not it sticks with me, impresses me, or (most importantly) makes me want to dance. But the occasion of Scissor Sisters‘ new release, Night Work, has tempted me to make the attempt.
First off, I should say that Night Work passes my initial standards with flying colors. The band repeatedly demonstrates their expertise at crafting songs that make you want to move. The best songs on Night Work don’t have a beat; they have a pulse. There’s driving percussion and throbbing electronics; but beyond their natural ability to write a catchy hook, there’s a smart nostalgia to Night Work that sucks you in. Many tracks on the album have a distinctive ’80s sound to them, loaded with synthesizers and dominated by steady bass. This is not a mistake. Scissor Sisters’ front-man Jake Shears has discussed how the impetus for Night Work came from immersing himself in the club scene of Berlin and reminiscing how a similarly vibrant scene in New York evaporated decades ago with the rapid onset of the AIDS crisis. The album is, in a sense, an alternate history; a “what if” had the disco balls at Studio 54 never stopped spinning. It’s a potent mindset to work in, and it clearly allowed the band to go for broke in the creative process.
The best songs on the album, in my opinion, are the radio-friendly “Fire With Fire”, which sounds like a collaboration between Elton John and Coldplay; “Sex and Violence”, with its oddly juxtaposed uptempo beat and regretful lyrics; and “Any Which Way”, which sounds like the results of a giggly jam session between Freddy Mercury and Chic. It’s “Funky Town” with some seriously funky lyrics. It’s ballsy, brazen, and brilliant. There are even, if I’m not mistaken, some auditory allusions to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
I’d definitely recommend picking up (or downloading) Night Work, particularly if you’re looking for some good gym or party music. Word is that Scissor Sisters also put on a hell of a show. They’ll be making an appearance in New York on August 24th at Terminal 5. Tickets go on sale July 9.
Below, I’ve embedded the music video for “Fire With Fire”, which was clearly made for mainstream airplay.
Here’s the video for “Kiss You Off” from their sophomore album, Ta-Da!. Much more unique.