Scissor Sisters drop their darkest album to date
:: Scissor Sisters ::
By Matt Treon
Sexy sleaze is probably exactly how Scissor Sisters would want their music to be described. The hyper-sexualized, never restrained, always exuberant band is as much an erotic-performance-art collective as they are a traditional rock band. But under all the glitter and glam, Scissor Sisters are an almost unbelievable collection of immense musical talent.
Touring in support of their third studio album, Night Work, they’re still mixing elements of rock, disco, and techno to great effect. And where most bands would come off cheesy (if not parodic) handling these stylistic elements, Scissor Sisters present them with uninhibited honesty. And it’s their stellar musicianship, more than anything else, that allows for this ingeniousness.
Night Work, while still residing mostly in the realm of carnivalesque fête, is easily the darkest Scissor Sisters album to date. “It is a darker record; it’s a little more sadistic,” singer Jake Shears recently said in conversation with The Marquee. On the track “Running Out,” Shears sings, “We’re running out of drugs, of patience, of air.” And it’s this feeling of desolation and desperation that Shears and the band seem to be exploring throughout the album.
Having scrapped an entire album’s worth of material before starting from scratch to take it again, Night Work was born out of this sense of searching, and the frustration involved in the struggle. “I didn’t care if it took ten years, I just wanted to make a record we were really happy with, and really felt like we were saying something about ourselves. That was more important than anything. I didn’t want to keep making the same album over and over again. I wanted to work with a new set of parameters,” said Shears.
One of the biggest changes to those parameters is that Night Work is the first Scissor Sisters album where they decided to go with an outside producer — three time Grammy-winning British musician/producer Stuart Price (New Order, The Killers, Pet Shop Boys). “It’s good and healthy to find like-minded people to help pull the best out of you,” Shears explained, “and make you think differently about how you’re doing things. And Stuart’s a friend, and someone we trust, and we love the music he’s helped make over the years — it really couldn’t have been anyone else.”
While still having the anthematic quality that has partly defined Scissor Sisters’ sound, Night Work is more strongly rooted in club music than their two previous albums. This fact can certainly be at least partially credited to having worked with Price, but is also a result of Shears having spent the interim between recording sessions on a personal vacation of sorts in Berlin, Germany, where he allowed himself to be enveloped by the Berlin nightlife — the source of the conceptual idea for Shears. “The night life I was living was spurring this creative work. And I was getting more done creatively than I would have standing in a studio.”
Also inspiring, according to Shears, was the time he spent with another uniquely talented musician, Rufus Wainwright, who was in Berlin working on a show of Shakespeare sonnets at the same time. “We spent quite a bit of time together. And watching [Rufus] do his work, which was amazing, was very inspiring. He was actually a big part of that trip,” Shears said This is an especially interesting circumstance considering the fact that it would be hard to find two albums more different than Night Work and Rufus Wainwright’s most recent album, yet both explore themes of self-destruction, loneliness, desperation, confusion, and even boredom. And, further, it is the type of personal exploration that leads people in the first place to seek community and find an identity amongst others — such is the theme at the heart of Night Work.
However, in all the gloom and dreariness that could be used to discuss the origins of the new Scissor Sisters album, it must also be stated that it is by no means joyless. It is as upbeat, ergo awesomely danceable, as any collection of Scissor Sisters songs to date. Ultimately, it’s a broadening of the band’s emotional horizons, and an expanding of their musical framework still built atop the same stylistic foundation.
And as for the live show, if their highly energetic performance on The David Letterman Show last month is any indicator, it will be as rousing and entertaining as ever. “The costumes are great,” Shears said. “It’s sexy. It’s definitely a sexy show.” “Costumes” is definitely key word there.
:: Scissor Sisters ::
:: The Ogden Theatre :: March 20 ::
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