[Album Review] “Magic Hour” by Scissor Sisters

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By John Glynn

At last, the new Scissor Sisters album is here, the time has arrived, Magic Hour has arrived. Truthfully, this is precisely what we have come to expect from Scissor Sisters; colorful and amusing melodies layered with a memorable hook. Since the release of their much admired debut album, Scissor Sisters have been giving the charts exactly what they want, irritatingly likable electro-pop tunes. Their array of hits include: ‘Take Your Mama’, ‘Mary’ and ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin.’ What makes the Sisters special is their attitude. They are as sassy as the most brazen of drag queens, as all-embracing as a Jehovah’s Witness on the job, and they don’t give a damn about mainstream acceptance. They are rather defiant, too – hell, they are one of the most exhilarating pop acts in the world…… yet they are named after slang for a lesbian sex act.

I have been waiting to hear this album for quite a while, with some pretty high expectations stored away. Have these lofty expectations been met? Let’s see.The group, spearheaded by Jake Shears, has yet again managed to stay true to their real sound whilst still progressing with fresh material. The freshness I mention stems from exciting collaborations with electronic mastermind Calvin Harris, but the most exciting aspect involves a collaboration between the Scissors and Pharrell Williams.

The opening track, Baby Come Home, opens up with a style that instantly reminds you of just why the Americans’ are adored so much. The infectious beat is classic Scissor Sisters, a vocally layered chorus that smacks of a retro disco sound. A real fun track to kick off the album; familiarity mixed with a little bit of funk. The next track is called Keep Your Shoes On – and honestly, this song sounds far too similar to Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls).” However, this is a far better track. When you hear the fantastically melodic chorus, you’ll recognize what I am talking about. Its military style marching beat just makes you want to get up and boogie (Yes, I just said the B word).

Ok, time for a breather, time for Inevitable – The album slows down a little bit on the third track. Inevitable is a decent mid-tempo track with feeble verses that eventually evolve into a clichéd Motown sounding chorus. With that being said, this track has 70’s flamboyance written all over it and is definitely a grower. Give it a few listens…. then judge.

Next up is probably the most recognizable track of Magic Hour; I am of course talking about Only The Horses. Personally, this tune was the one that made me really eager to hear the new album. Criticism has accompanied this release; many fans felt it verged too far down the road of mainstream pop. While that’s a reasonable assertion, I do feel that the sound on this track strikes the correct equilibrium between what the market demands and what Scissor Sister fans demand. Track number five is called Year of Living Dangerously – it simply oozes a vibe of relaxation, a real chill-out tune. Honestly, it’s quite similar to track number three, Inevitable. Basically, it’s Inevitable with an 80’s beat as opposed to a 70’s beat. Throw in some futuristic sounds for a pretty lukewarm result. I must admit that Jake Shears remarkable falsetto makes this track respectable.

The remaining half of the album has a few really solid tracks, the pick of the bunch comes in the form of Shady Love. This is a rather catchy tune; fun and funky, it really emphasizes the significance of Jake and his cool Latino flow. The listener is treated to Shears rapping about alcohol, illegal substances and “this bitch” he met out in Boston. Jake proceeds to talk about this girl’s fondness for Obama and undying love for Madonna. Whoever she is, she sounds pretty fun. Shady Love manages to deceive in a pretty impressive fashion: it sounds absolutely nothing like any other Scissor Sisters track, but still carries that distinct Scissor Sister sound. Nice! Shears’ exceptional vocal ability is at the core of this album and, like preceding Scissor Sisters LP’s, ‘Magic Hour’ delivers beautifully.

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