By Leila Regan-Porter
New York City’s Scissor Sisters is one of those bands that is just hugely popular overseas. The group joins the formidable list that includes the likes of The Strokes, White Stripes, The Killers, Kelis and Kings of Leons – all American artists that blew up in the British Isles long before gaining mainstream notoriety in their home country.
But the difference is, after a few years or less, those bands did take over the American charts, and became pop heroes over in the motherland. It’s been six years since Scissor Sisters released their eponymous debut, which was the best selling album of 2004 over in the UK, but only reached number 102 in the States. And though this third album, Night Work, did reach number 18 on the Billboard 200, it hardly compares to the number 2 spot it landed on the UK album chart.
Maybe it’s the delightfully blatant sexy references. “I found a whole new way to love you/Might sneak up from behind/It’s gonna blow your mind” and “I’ve got your tail between my legs” on “Whole New Way” and “Don’t point that thing at me/Unless you plan to shoot” on, naturally, “Harder You Get.” The whole group is just wonderfully camp, which is probably why England loves them so much (case and point: Graham Norton), and they always bring the fun in spades. No matter how dark and steamy the tracks get, there is always enough of a funky late ’70s disco beat borrowed from Studio 54 (“Running Out,” “Night Work” are prime examples “Any Which Way”) to bring the down ‘n’ dirty feel back up to a glam rock mood.
But we can’t really blame the overt sexiness – after all, Lady Gaga talks about taking a ride on some fellas disco stick, and she’s the biggest thing since bread got cut up into manageable pieces. Still, many will rate the simply fantastic nature of this new record as Record of Year material: the way that Jake Shears has his tongue placed firmly in cheek so much of the time yet still remains genuine in his falsetto-sung lines of dirty dancing; the way the synthy keys sound like they haven’t aged a day since 1982; the way “Fire With Fire” echoes the bravado of Broadway ballads but manages to become more heartfelt and glorious as a pop tune with every listen. While no one can doubt that Lady Gaga probably feels as simultaneously amused by and true to her work as Scissor Sisters do, this group definitely feels more secure in their footing than the new Queen of Pop. They are, if there can be such a thing, the Elder Statesmen (and lady, with vocalist Ana Matronic) of Camp, the Dukes and Duchess of Neo-Disco, the Governors of Glam. And long may they reign.
Scissor Sisters play The Buckhead Theatre, August 21.