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Shears & co. revel in their own unique brand of fabulous pop
Craig Fitzpatrick, 30 May 2012
Initial signs were a cause for concern. The Calvin Harris-assisted lead single ‘Only The Horses’ sounded – Jake Shears’ vocal aside – like, welll, a Calvin Harris song. There was the feeling they were getting their excuses in early when they talked about how the album had come together in a rush. Heck, this ‘magic hour’ only lasts for 57 minutes.
Luckily, that’s the only aspect in which the listener is short-changed – building on the quality of 2010’s Night Work, Scissor Sisters have delivered the kind of album that can only come from a supremely confident act at the top of their game. They’ve toned down the Elton John nods and cartoonish campiness for a more mature – and sexy – synth sonic palette, finding their own sound in the New York clubs they trawled in the ‘90s.
From that base, they’re happy to soundtrack your Friday night. So ‘Let’s Have A Kiki’ is a ludicrous lark and all the better for it, opener ‘Baby Come Home’ buffs up the Reggie Dwight-funk flavour of old, and ‘Shady Love’ makes good use of the ubiquitous Azealia Banks. The party boxes ticked, the best of Magic Hour is found in the mellower, after-hours tracks that wander back a few decades to locate David Bowie’s plastic soul. ‘Best In Me’ is a touching ode to a love lost; ‘Somewhere’ wears its wistfulness well; and ‘Year Of Living Dangerously’ sees Shears floating above fluorescent clouds. It has Scissor Sisters approaching the kind of slick serenity that Avalon-era Roxy Music would be proud of. The real keeper is ‘Inevitable’, their solid gold, Bee Gees moment. Produced by The Neptunes, it reminds you of a pre-Kanye time when Pharrell Williams was bullet-proof. It also puts you in mind of Scissor Sisters’ first appearance. It’s their cover of ‘Comfortably Numb’ finally cured of the jitters, sumptuously sedated.
Four albums in, they’ve come a long way. On the evidence of Magic Hour, they’re still enjoying the journey.