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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Track-by-Track: Scissor Sisters - Night Work

Scissor Sisters have been away for four years. That's like a lifetime for pop groups. Turns out, it took them that long to create what could be their masterpiece. In a career of strong albums, Night Work easily eclipses their last effort and gives their debut a run for its money. Blazingly energetic and, most importantly, consistent, it's the rare pop album that works all the way through. Pop is well and truly back!

1. Night Work - Kicks off the album with a blast. Full-on 80's dance guitars and a propulsive beat combine with wistful vocals about a life lived after the sun goes down. One of the strongest, most instant tracks. It reminds me, in parts, of Prince's 80's output. 10/10

2. Whole New Way - Jake uses his distinctive Laura vocals on this funky midtempo. And speaking of Prince, this vocal style reminds me of his Sign o' the Times era alter-ego Camille. The middle-eight here is wonderfully dramatic. 9/10

3. Fire With Fire - The album's big anthem, and the closest to approaching the Elton-esque pop of their last album. It's also the closest the album gets to a ballad, though the chugging euro-beat keeps things moving. A brilliant, soaring single. 10/10

4. Any Which Way - A huge disco track with stabbing strings, a dramatic siren opening and a welcome, campy spoken interlude from Ana. It's got everything a Scissor Sisters track should have. The Filthy/Gorgeous of this album, though not quite as classic. 9/10

5. Harder You Get - A hard-rock, 80's pastiche with smutty, spoken verses and a stick-in-your-head (or somewhere else...) hook. The blazing guitar solo towards the end is a new (and thrilling) diversion for the band. 9/10

6. Running Out - Probably the most 80's inspired track, it reminds me of album-producer Trevor Horn's work with his band the Buggles. It works wonderful as a duet, and the herky-jerky chorus is completely addicting. Jake sounds like John Cameron Mitchell at points. One of my favorites. 10/10

7. Something Like This - Another highlight, though it's completely different from the last track. The band do robo-electro-funk surprisingly well. The lyrics are throwaway, yet somehow quite stirring in their simplicity. It demands to be a single. 10/10

8. Skin This Cat - This took me the longest to come around to. Now I look at it more as an interlude, segueing between the earlier tracks and the epic string of songs that end the album. It's got an icy electro thump to it, though Ana's vocals aren't quite enough to support the entire song. Still, a grower. 8/10

9. Skin Tight - An anthem, like Fire With Fire, with the melody up front. The bridge is exhilarating, leading into a powerful, singalong chorus. Jake sounds world-conquering, and it segues perfectly into the next track. 10/10

10. Sex And Violence - A dark, electronic opus with a flawless melody and even better production. Jake's vocal performance, subtler and more mysterious here, deserves more praise than it'll probably get. And those seesaw synths throughout are PERFECTION. 10/10

11. Night Life - Ridiculously catchy, like the energy of a rave smashed into a pop song. The percolating verses are Ana at her best and the Jake-fronted chorus compliments them perfectly. You will be singing this one. 10/10

12. Invisible Light - What can I say about this that hasn't been said before? The last two minutes, with the Ian McKellen vocals and the instrumental climax, are among the best work the band has ever done. This is an instant classic. A massive achievement. 10/10

Album Grade: 9.6/10

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Blogger Poster Girl said...

"Sex and Violence" is my BIG favorite of the previously unheard tracks, but I love the whole album. Love. And I can't quite believe it, given my at-best-lukewarm reaction to the group's output before--they were always in that "would love to love them, but don't love most of the music" category before (unusually), but this--instantly, effortlessly fantastic and still not worn out who knows how many plays in.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

So glad you're loving the album! And though I can't imagine how anyone wouldn't have been obsessed with their debut, the fact that they've turned you around hopefully means that they'll be winning a ton of new fans with Night Work.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Bentoh said...

Just a passerby trying to see if the album worth the wait, your rating certainly is generous! Definitely downloading :)

4:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Scissor Sisters - Night Work | Go To Listen >>>

7:22 AM  
Blogger DDQ1971 said...

'Skin Tight' is my favourite track, I just cannot stop playing it!! The whole album is by FAR their best ever work. I bought this album the day of release and it hasn't been off my car CD yet, its on my Ipod, my home PC......even my youngest daughter (8) sings along!! Superb and well worth the long wait! Can't wait to see them again in December in Manchester!

12:02 AM  

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