Scissor Sisters

Magic Hour

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The Scissor Sisters followed Night Work's dancefloor triumphs with Magic Hour, a set of songs that seem more comfortable when they don't feel like dancing. Not that the group doesn't try to keep Night Work's momentum going: Jake Shears, Ana Matronic, and company recruited Pharrell Williams and Calvin Harris to co-produce a couple of tracks, and invited Azealia Banks to rap on "Shady Love." It's just that, much like on Ta-Dah!, this time Scissor Sisters' skill at writing more introspective pop songs is that much sharper, and more prominent. Magic Hour shows its hand right away with the great opening track "Baby Come Home," possibly the band's most appealing single since "Don't Feel Like Dancin'" and definitely a showcase for the band's AM pop songwriting mastery -- they're still the best among the many acts who dig through '70s and early-'80s pop for inspiration, such as Mika, Chromeo, and Electric Guest. Pharrell helps the band attain breezy Bee Gees nirvana on "Inevitable," and Shears shines on "San Luis Obispo"'s sunny, strummy pop and "Best in Me," which puts a melody that would easily fit on one of Scissor Sisters' more retro tracks to a briskly contemporary arrangement. When the band does try to pick up the pace, the results are mixed: sometimes they work their kinetic magic, as on the aerodynamic "Keep Your Shoes On" and the Matronic showcase "Let's Have a Kiki," an anthem about low-rent fabulosity and justified cattiness, but too often their attempts to get things moving feel contrived: despite Banks' fierce flow, "Shady Love" just doesn't have the impact it should (although a more inspired remix would take care of that). While Magic Hour may not be as satisfying to fans who just wanna dance as albums like Night Work and Scissor Sisters were, it should please those who enjoy the band's formidable songwriting skills as much as cutting a rug -- and at the very least, it reaffirms that Scissor Sisters still have more depth than some people give them credit for. [This version of Magic Hour features several bonus tracks that balance the album's reflective feel, including a pounding remix of "Let's Have a Kiki" by DJ Nita and the hyperactive "F*** Yeah."]

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