Scissor Sisters - Magic Hour

Scissor Sisters are at their best when they sound a little bit weird.

Label: Polydor

Rating: 7

One of the age-old perils of pop music is that it is incredibly easy to be left behind as what once was considered fresh and vibrant is quickly superseded and denounced as passe and very much old news. This is particularly magnified in the hyper speed world of contemporary pop today. Between 2004 and 2007, Scissor Sisters could legitimately claim to be one of the biggest pop groups in the world following their massive selling debut album and multiple Brit awards success. Something seems to have gone wrong in the intervening years however, the New York groups influence, and success, while not entirely eroded, seems to have been on a downward trend.

Their last album ‘Night Work’ was a patchy listen that failed to truly reconnect them with the mainstream. Fourth album ‘Magic Hour’ attempts to fix those faults and it finds the group aiming very much for the pop stratosphere as they try to recapture the thrills of their early days.

‘Magic Hour’ is very much a collaborative album with input from a whole range or artists and producers. Stuart Price, Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams, Diplo and Boyz Noise all feature as well as a guest vocal from one of 2012’s brightest new stars Azealia Banks. This collaborative approach gives the album a slight feeling of frenzied incoherency though as ‘Magic Hour’ tries to be all things to everyone. When it is good it is excellent and when it is bad it is merely uninspiring.

‘Keep Your Shoes On’ is a great piece of minimal electro funk that indicates the album’s dominant dance floor sound. The pounding house beat of ‘Self Control’ is a real highlight that sounds like it could be a long lost 80’s Chicago cut, think a deeper and more intense Robyn S. These tracks show that there are still few better groups at combining progressive dance floor influences with massive pop hooks. Unfortunately, there are a few moments when their dance floor radar goes ever so slightly wonky.

‘Only The Horses’ is instantly recognisable as a Calvin Harris production bearing all his hallmarks. It is dispiriting in the extreme though hearing a group who are capable of making truly progressive electronic pop resorting to such an obvious formulaic sound. The uproariously bonkers techno of ‘Let’s Have A Kiki’ is far more appealing. Scissor Sisters are at their best when they sound a little bit weird and that is certainly the case on this track.

‘Magic Hour’ is an album that equally frustrates and enthrals. The collection of excellent electro pop tracks show the band still know their way around a melody but the album is let down by a few too many tired and morose ballads and witless appropriations of chart successful sounds. Perhaps the band should have cut down on the collaborators and stuck to their own instincts. Still, ‘Magic Hour’ is a good album that shows there is still plenty of life left in Scissor Sisters.