More times than I care to remember I‚Äôve read back over an article or review I‚Äôve just written and found it to be‚Ä¶off. Not what I‚Äôd intended and certainly not what I‚Äôd hoped for. It usually happens with pieces I‚Äôve had to labor over ‚ÄĒ which only makes it more frustrating, of course. Most times, by tweaking this or that I can polish the piece to an acceptable degree. Sometimes, though, there‚Äôs no saving the work and it‚Äôs back to the drawing board. I hate those times.
Having endured this experience in my own small way, I can only imagine what the four members of Scissor Sisters felt when, after 18 months of work, they began to get the gnawing feeling that they needed to scrap their just-completed third album and re-start the entire writing and recording process from scratch. The band‚Äôs fears were confirmed by superstar pal Elton John after he was given a sneak preview. For whatever reason, the project simply hadn‚Äôt come together.
Scissor Sisters‚Äô self-titled debut, which perfectly recreated the flamboyant pop and rock of the ‚Äė70s, was the best surprise of 2004. Audiences across Europe and particularly the U.K. went wild for the album and the camptastic band ‚ÄĒ ex-stripper frontman Jake Shears, multi-instrumentalist Babydaddy, guitarist Del Marquis (all of them openly gay) and straight backing vocalist Ana Matronic. Unlike so many acts that take multiple albums to get their musical footing or build a sustained following, the Sisters struck gold dust on their first try.
In 2006, the band‚Äôs sophomore album, ‚ÄúTa-Dah,‚ÄĚ was released under the weight of gargantuan expectations. While most critics felt it fell short of the tossed-off brilliance of its predecessor, it was another international hit fueled by lead single ‚ÄúI Don‚Äôt Feel Like Dancing.‚ÄĚ The song topped charts around the world ‚ÄĒ not including America, where the band has never broken into the mainstream but enjoys a devoted cult following.
Following an extensive tour and much-needed furlough, everyone regrouped for those ill-fated third-album sessions.
When the wheels came off, the members went their separate ways. Shears was lost on a dancefloor in Berlin when an intriguing question bacame lodged in his mind: What would music sound like today if AIDS had never decimated the disco generation. The answer was the sound the band had been grasping for, he felt; his bandmates agreed. They returned to the studio, joined this time by production wizard Stuart Price (Madonna‚Äôs ‚ÄúConfessions On A Dancefloor‚ÄĚ), and set to work on their new thematic vision.
According to the dozen tracks that comprise ‚ÄúNight Work‚ÄĚ (out now on Polydor), the proper response to Shear‚Äôs initial query is a thumping, four-on-the-floor orgy of Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Bronski Beat and Pet Shop Boys that rattles the speakers of the sleazy bath house in your mind. It‚Äôs also the hands-down hands-in-the-air party record of 2010.
Key cuts include the ho‚Äôs anthem title song, rousing call-to-arms single ‚ÄúFire With Fire,‚ÄĚ down-and-dirty rocker ‚ÄúHarder You Get,‚ÄĚ and epic album closer ‚ÄúInvisible Light,‚ÄĚ which features a Vincent Price on ‚ÄúThriller‚ÄĚ-style spoken word breakdown from Sir Ian McKellan. The track builds and builds before finally exploding in a torrent of thrusting beats that hit you like tsunami waves. It‚Äôs the musical equivalent of an amyl-fueled orgasm that pushes you over the edge of ecstacy but spares you the headache.
After a crushing false start, Scissor Sisters have rebounded by producing the soundtrack of the hook-up generation. Oh, how I love a happy ending. Towel, please. : :