Sunday, September 2, 2012

As the magic hour dawns, is #4 still making the cut?

Today covers the Scissor Sisters #4 "Magic Hour" - an album that sees the band less 1 drummer, but certainly losing none of the "fab" feeling they mine with each album.  Where the previous Night Work was a non-stop super-disco party burner front to back, Magic Hour feels like the perfect after-party accompaniment to that disc.  It's all slithery under-ground grooves, mixing introspective vibes in with the party flavor.  It starts off with a kind of plea in "Baby Come Home" but steers straight back into "Night Work" territory with the thumping, urgent "Keep Your Shoes On" - and then flip-flops right back into introspective territory with "Inevitable" and then switches off again with "Only The Horses" - it would seem from the first 4 tracks this album can't quite decide what mood to work with, but that doesn't detract from the proceedings any.

"Year of living dangerously" feels like a prequel track or an afterwards-nostalgia trip - take your pick of which, really, but it draws many connections to the hedonistic abandon that is splattered all over Night Work - and there is a definite sense of wondering if it's all really worth it - mixed right in with a "Well hell with it, I'm going to live dangerously anyhow" kind of reckless abandon.  These 2 wouldn't seem to go well together, but  in this song, they do.  One of the most ultra-fabulous tracks on the disc "Let's have a kiki" manages to spin fun out of drag queen slang without being too over-the-top.  From here the disc goes back into a vibe that is half-way to "Night Work" ferocity with such songs as "Shady Love" and slows it back down again for - well - you can just about smell the pina coladas on the beach when the first few notes of "San Luis Obispo" start playing.  From here the album ping-pongs yet again to "Self Control" - speedy, yes, but still preaching restraint that seems in stark contrast to the type of message the band usually pushes into the music.

As the disc draws to a close, some mis-ordering gets in the way of things a bit.  "The secret life of letters" is a quiet, reflective piece that would do better at the end - coming as it does before "Somewhere" it makes the flow of the album overall jarring.

Album #4 is an unusual thing - an un-even Scissor Sisters disc.  They have done the variance of styles trick before, but previous efforts have pulled it off better.  Either way, if you don't mind the disjointed feel, it is still a solid batch of tunes for the fan or casual listener to check out.

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