When the Scissor Sisters announced they had scrapped an entire album of new material and started again, many saw it as a sign that the flamboyant five-piece was faltering.
Scissors Sisters: Night Works
When the Scissor Sisters announced they had just scrapped an entire album of new material and started again - effectively erasing 18 months of hard work - many saw the decision as a sign that the flamboyant New York five-piece was faltering. After all, aside from a few strong singles, their last LP (2006's Ta-Dah!) was a lacklustre affair, adding almost nothing to the sound of their hugely successful debut. But the group's decision not to rush the release of Night Work seems to have been a wise one.
This record sees them switching the somewhat tired psychedelic glam-pop of their last release, for brimming electro funk. The new sound is evident on songs like Running Out, a vintage eighties synth-pop number; Skin Tight, which has the allure of Prince at his outrageous best and Something Like This, which brings to mind the unstoppable robot stomp of Kraftwerk. Although every electronic album owes some debt to Italian producer and synth pioneer Giorgio Moroder - responsible for everything from Donna Summer's I Feel Love to the Flashdance score - this album shows his influence more than most.
But Night Work is an evolution for the Scissor Sisters rather than a revolution, and many of the group's most familiar elements have remained in place. Take the lead single, Fire Without Fire, which starts-off with a 1970s Elton John-style ballad before transforming into a soaring dance anthem. As well as their love of Elton, the group's highly recognisable (and highly annoying, for some) double-header of shrill vocals and double entendres is also back with a vengeance.
Shears' lyrics first begin to irritate on the second track Whole New Way, a sleazy number that's unforgivably short on humour. More than a little reminiscent of the Bee Gees, Any Which Way is likely to be a big club hit, but the blistering disco number is again let down by the lyrics. While the addition of synths and drum machines has undoubtedly rejuvenated the band, the new sound has also led to a lack of variation, from which the group's previous records never suffered.
The kitsch of Night Work would probably ensure the group's continued popularity among its core audience (a odd mix of clubbers and housewives) but the record's brash, metallic edge will probably alienate the latter. They shouldn't worry too much about that though; having demonstrated an impressive ability to strip their sound back to the bare essentials, then clad it with something entirely different, they are likely to gain more supporters than they will lose.