“Magic Hour” – Scissor Sisters

3 stars (out of 5)

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Picture of - Scissor Sisters Magic HourScissor Sisters are a difficult bunch to pigeon hole. ‘Baby Come Home’ misleadingly opens the album with the Scissor Sisters DNA completely intact; 1970’s pop rock, Jake Shears falsetto vocals,  honky-tonk piano, 70s disco.  It’s all here as it is with the slinky Pharrell Williams-produced, Bee Gees-invoking ‘Inevitable’ too, both strong songs that suggest a return to their debut album and sound. From here on in though the Sisters pick up and flirt with different genres and styles with varying degrees of success.

‘Fun’ is a word I really don’t like to use to describe music and people who do tend to bother me; but in this instance it’s maybe the most appropriate word, in the best possible sense, to express how the best of this album sounds. ‘Keep Your Shoes On’, ‘Shady Love’ and in particular the (scandalously underused) Ana Matronic lead ‘Let’s Have a Kiki‘ sound like remixes of Scissor Sister tracks; sonically they are tight, modern sounding, completely electronic house but in the spirit of Deee Lite, Rupaul and Junior Vasquez. Very gay and, yes, (although I am loath to the use the word) camp and without a doubt a throwback and tribute to the Vogue Balls and drag and club culture of the late eighties and early nineties. The plinky-plonk synth keys offset against the chorus of orgasmic groans on ‘Self Control’ bring to mind the enormously influential Robin S hit ‘Show Me Love’.

Elsewhere Calvin Harris  takes over production duties with the lead single ‘Only The Horses’ and album closer ‘Somewhere’ both continue the pounding pop house to a less successful and more generic effect lacking the full bloodiness of, for example, the band’s first album and the personality of the ‘Kiki’ tracks here. Two Rufus Wainwright-lite ballads fail to fully engage and ‘Best in Me’ sounds like Geri Halliwell attempting an island sound; make of that what you will. So unlike the preceding ‘Night Work’, their most cohesive and specific piece of work so far, this is a messy bag of highs and lows and some track skipping will be required if you’re listening to the album from start to finish. But watch out for ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’, it’s one of those songs that seems to have a life of its own. Already a live favourite due largely to the Matronic’s hugely charismatic presence, prepare to hear ‘we’re gonna serve and work and turn honey!’ at festivals everywhere this summer.

And add an extra half to make that 3 (and a half) stars.