I don’t mind Jake Shears. In fact, I rather like him when he’s wearing as few clothes as possible. But I wouldn’t want him to serenade me.
Shears’ voice is an acquired taste, something a lot of listeners seem to have acquired faster than I have. And I’ll admit the band’s party rock is out of sorts among the headbanging rock and tortured chamber music that make up most of my collection.
But I follow Scissor Sisters because they’re big figures in gay circles, and they’ve made a success out of their queerness.
Given this sense of ambivalence, it was quite surprising to see Magic Hour end up on the year-end favorite list. This album is perhaps my first step toward becoming a Scissor Sisters convert.
Simply put, I enjoyed this album far more than I did Night Work. The vibe is a lot more fun. The tunes are much more memorable. If the point of a Scissor Sisters album is to make you get up and move, Magic Hour succeeds where its predecessor did not. And I don’t dance.
“Let’s Have a Kiki” was the first track to seep into my consciousness. It’s hard not to fall in love with Ana Matronic’s sassy phone message intro.
“Only the Horses” came next with that gorgeous chorus. When he’s not trying to be a Gibb brother or Prince, Shears can really deliver. “The Secret Life of Letters” is another track where Shears, stripped of all affect, sounds remarkable.
The vaguely Latin rhythms and acoustic guitar of “San Luis Obispo” is the kind of stretching I’d like to see the band do more of. As for the rest of the album, there’s hardly a misstep. “Somewhere,” in particular, concludes the album with another winner of a chorus.
At some point, I may explore the band’s first two albums, but for now I’ll consider Magic Hour the album to recommend for Scissor Sister skeptics such as myself.