Scissor Sisters Magic Hour(Polydor) Buy it from Insound
We probably don't need to talk about Magic Hour. After all, in the few weeks since its release it's charted fairly respectably, but noticeably lower than Scissor Sisters' previous records, suggesting that their fifteen minutes are, if not over, at least coming to an end.
On the other hand, no record that contains something as atrocious as the drag-bar rendition of Wannabe gone horribly, horribly wrong that is Let's Have a Kiki should be allowed off the hook entirely. (Maybe such a description is doing it a disservice, but the three-note catty cut-up is so mind-bogglingly excruciating that it seems to defeat all language).
It could be argued that such a decline in popularity is an inevitability, that the sales figures that their first two records received were unsustainable and that there's nothing wrong with their now playing to a core, devoted audience. And there would be some merit to that argument, as there are moments on Magic Hour that suggest that the novelty hasn't completely worn off – Inevitable's grandiose falsetto and full-on diva backing vocals makes you feel, after the sad demise of Robin Gibb, somewhat optimistic that theres somebody still out there writing stuff like this, and that they deserve credit for spotting the so-hot-right-now Azealia Banks before most of us had cottoned on to her and giving her a guest spot on the really quite excellent dancehall-influenced Shady Love. And it would be fair to say that other than ...Kiki, Magic Hour's never exactly bad.
It's worse than that.
Partly, this is because the tracks don't seem to be about anything at all. The obligatory slow-one The Secret Life of Letters, for example, might go through the necessary motions to be the big dramatic show-stopper (and it does have an attractive backing section), but that counts for very little when its emotional depth is microscopic.
True, there's always been a mile-wide streak of irony in Scissor Sisters' output, but even the jokey likes of their take on Comfortably Numb was something approaching feeling. In fact much of the camp nature of their past material came from there being rather too much feeling to contain, now it's just camp for the sake of being camp, and a lot less interesting for it.
Otherwise, if it's not the lyrics, it's the music, which largely fails to stir the loins, or anything else for that matter. In a sense they have moved on, from their earlier disco sound to something that leans more towards the 80s, as in Best in Me, or the early 90s eurodisco of still-perplexing single Only the Horses, and unfortunately this comes with the associated thin, tedious production that plagued our eardrums at the time.
Long story short, as it's been so slickly designed to be "just a bit of fun" (and no doubt there'll be a sizeable section of their audience who'll be more than happy with that), the fact that it isn't makes it seem all the more annoying, and ultimately depressing; like having a miserable time at a party and wondering if it's your fault that you didn't enjoy it, or everyone else's.
Long story even shorter, listening to it feels pretty much like this:
18 June, 2012 - 11:30 — Mark Davison