On The Download: Scissor Sisters’ ‘Night Work’

It’s been a long four years in the music world since we’ve had a new Scissor Sisters album, but the results are all too worth the wait.

“Night Work,” the third full-length studio album from the New York-based quintet, is set for release on June 29, just in time for its playful summer sound to inspire romance and fabulousness throughout the nation. The press notes explain that the album, “pays homage to the club scene of the 1970’s and 80’s,” which is an apt description. The music truly feels inspired by another era – a time when NYC was frightening and exciting, still edgy and yet outrageously camp.

For those not yet initiated into the cult that is the band — lead by exceptional vocalist Jake Shears (full disclosure: a friend from my days living in the East Village) — the best way I could explain them is to take a bit of Bowie, a pinch of Elton, a splash of Kylie, mix together with a healthy helping of Sylvester and Grace Jones and serve with a dollop of Queen, then sprinkle a bit of the Bee Gees and the B-52’s, and serve warm.

First leaked single, “Invisible Light,” sounds similar to the band’s first breakthrough success, their re-imagining of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” The song is notably the album’s last track, but has some of the most distinct sounds, lyrics and musical experimentation.

Every Scissor Sisters album seems to have one outwardly commercial track. On previous albums, those songs were “Take Your Mama” and “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” – and on “Night Work,” that track is the third on the album (and the first official single), “Fire With Fire.” As anthemic and melodious as any song the band has ever written, Jake has never sounded more like his mentor, Sir Elton, himself. The song is ready to achieve iconic success on par with Elton’s “Your Song.” It is, in a word — stunning.

Opening and lead title track, “Night Work,” is an ode to streetwalkers and creatures of the downtown NYC scene. It’s this album’s “Filthy/Gorgeous.” I’ll be excited to see the kids play this one live.

But no Scissor Sisters album is just a collection of tracks. Their work is better listened to as a whole. I tend to gravitate toward their more mainstream fare, so my additional favorite tracks on the album (beyond “Fire With Fire”) are “Running Out” and “Skin Tight,” (the former of which features Jake in full Adam Ant mode… the latter of which sounds like Rick Springfield for the 21st century).

My only desire left unfulfilled from this album is that I want more from sole female band member, Ana Matronic, who seems to be featured less prominently vocally on this album than on the band’s past works. She has a nice Deborah Harry-like spoken-sung interlude on “Any Which Way,” about her hunt for the perfect man, but it left me wanting more from her. She also sings lead vocals on one track, “Skin This Cat,” which is a fun little electro-infused number. More Ana please! Lord only knows, she has the talent.

The Scissor Sisters head back out on the road in the UK (where they’ve been significantly more successful compared to in the U.S.) in mid-June, set to play through Scotland, Ireland and London, and of course, the Glastonbury Festival, where they’ve been one of the most popular acts in past recent years. Their plans on American shores remain TBD, but expect to hear much more from the band in late summer and fall.

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