Release Date: May 29, 2012
Record label: Polydor
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Alternative Dance, Dance-Rock
The hedonistic disco–pop crew connects when it drops its guard (the cheating anthem "Year of Living Dangerously") or wigs out, but the Brit–pop and Elton John moves here feel phoned in. Moderation in pursuit of fabulosity is no virtue. Listen to 'Magic Hour':. Related • Photos: Random Notes.
The Scissor Sisters followed Night Work's dancefloor triumphs with Magic Hour, a set of songs that seem more comfortable when they don't feel like dancing. Not that the group doesn't try to keep Night Work's momentum going: Jake Shears, Ana Matronic, and company recruited Pharrell Williams and Calvin Harris to co-produce a couple of tracks, and invited Azealia Banks to rap on "Shady Love. " It's just that, much like on Ta-Dah!, this time Scissor Sisters' skill at writing more introspective pop songs is that much sharper, and more prominent.
SCISSOR SISTERS play Sound Academy on June 28. See listing. Rating: NNN After a darkly decadent (and super-gay) detour into sleazy after-hours 80s sounds on 2010's Night Work, Scissor Sisters return to lighter, chart-friendly fare on their fourth album. Although the after-hours sex club angle is more exciting than this album's grab bag approach, Magic Hour does provide the hangover remedy the New York group seemed in need of.
For a few crazy summers NYC’s Scissor Sisters were perversely and quite brilliantly one of the biggest bands in the UK. They brought not only “Da ruckus” but armfuls of club bangers, disco biscuits and ‘one size fits all’ gold hot pants for everyone. They even offered to take your Mother out and get her “Jacked up on some cheap champagne”, which was nice.
Scissor Sisters’ last album, 2010’s ‘Night Work’, was a triumph of sorts. It was all sleaze-pop references and a general sense of disorder that flew in the face of their previous incarnation as the Nation’s Favourite Wacky Uncles (and Aunt). And although they’ve backtracked ever so slightly on ‘Magic Hour’ (it’s co-produced by Calvin Harris), the best bits retain the shadow of Lower East Side grot that made ‘Night Work’ so good.
Once upon a time, Scissor Sisters were the pop band it was cool to like. Chiming with Brandon Flowers’s dubious taste in guyliner and the homoerotic thrills of Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Michael’, their brand of ultra-brash camp was considered semi-credible. So much so that they even lent their respectability to V Festival by co-headlining the traditional boreathon alongside Alex Kapranos and co.
Eight years after Scissor Sisters turned Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb into an unlikely disco smash, guest producers Pharrell Williams and Calvin Harris, and an Azealia Banks rap on Shady Love, give their fourth album an electro-pop sheen aimed at today's top 40. The euphoric dance single Only the Horses is already a hit, although such Identikit chart grooves have come at the expense of the Sisters' individuality. Less of themselves is lost on the quirky pop fluff of Keep Your Shoes On and Ana Matronic's Latin percussion-banging Let's Have a Kiki, but the New Yorkers sound most comfortable on piano-pumping pop songs.
The other night, I was standing in the pool eating a hot dog while my neighbors blared random dance tunes and Gorillaz remixes. I got to thinking about how similar hot dogs and dance music are. Both are given a bad rap by some for their inherent lack of substance, despite being enjoyed by millions worldwide. However, not all hot dogs/dance music are created equal.
When the word got out that the Scissor Sisters' fourth album would feature collaborations with producers like Calvin Harris, Diplo, the Neptunes and Boys Noize, it seemed safe to assume that we were in for the party-happy band's most danceable record yet. But no. Magic Hour is, in fact, the group's most low-key and ballad-centric album to date, with only a few cuts that approach the hyperactive, ultra-camp thrills of songs like "Filthy/Gorgeous", "Paul McCartney", and "Invisible Light".
If there’s one thing Scissor Sisters have never wanted for, it’s a distinct voice. That the group has such an immediately identifiable POV makes their decision to bring in a horde of outside collaborators—including Diplo, the Neptunes, Calvin Harris, and Azealia Banks—for their fourth album, Magic Hour, all the more misguided and ineffective. It’s not that the Scissor Sisters are too insular an act to work collaboratively with other artists: Instead, it’s that the hired guns here don’t always know how to use their own talents in ways that highlight what the Scissor Sisters do well.
We probably don't need to talk about Magic Hour. After all, in the few weeks since its release it's charted fairly respectably, but noticeably lower than Scissor Sisters' previous records, suggesting that their fifteen minutes are, if not over, at least coming to an end. On the other hand, no record that contains something as atrocious as the drag-bar rendition of Wannabe gone horribly, horribly wrong that is Let's Have a Kiki should be allowed off the hook entirely.
The flamboyant poppers rediscover their magic touch on album four. Tom Hocknell 2012 Scissor Sisters’ audacious cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb sounds as fresh today as in 2004 – but can the same be said for the band themselves? 2010’s Night Work album, despite the Frankie Goes to Hollywood-like majesty of Invisible Light, sounded panicked, testing the thin line between exuberance and contrivance. Its number two chart position was hardly a disaster – but the album sold less than previous sets, leaving this fourth album with plenty to prove.
One of the age-old perils of pop music is that it is incredibly easy to be left behind as what once was considered fresh and vibrant is quickly superseded and denounced as passe and very much old news. This is particularly magnified in the hyper speed world of contemporary pop today. Between 2004 and 2007, Scissor Sisters could legitimately claim to be one of the biggest pop groups in the world following their massive selling debut album and multiple Brit awards success.