Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters

(Universal; 2004)

By Todd Aman | 16 August 2007

Over this past week, I've alternated listening to two albums: Jawbox's For Your Own Special Sweetheart and Scissor Sisters' eponymous debut. Scissor Sisters are, in all senses of the word, fabulous. Out and proud, the band gets down and dirty with disco beats, funky bass-lines, and rampant falsetto. And their lyrics! Well, for instance, "Take Your Mama Out" suggests that you should come out to your mother by taking her out on the town. On the other hand, Jawbox is, in the parlance of our times, badass. The band gets in your face with straight-up, lacerating guitar punk. All things considered, the two albums balance each other out perfectly. Scissor Sisters induce rampant ass-shaking, musically challenging my sexual orientation. Jawbox helps me compensate for any insecurities that I may have after listening to Scissor Sisters on repeat.

To be fair, Scissor Sisters' debut isn't all fabulous disco-pop. At least six of its fourteen tracks fall solidly into Camp Rock-and-Roll. The album's opener, "Laura," is piano, drums, and bass dynamite, while "Return to Oz," far and away the album's best track, channels acoustic Pink Floyd with tripped-out brilliance. Other tracks, like "Lovers in the Back Seat," ambiguously straddle the fence, combining funky synths with traditional sounds.

Ranging from fabulous disco to 70s-style piano rock, shouldn't this album sound pretty schizophrenic? Actually, the album hangs together well, all things considered. With some notable exceptions, all the songs share three common qualities: infectious melodies, catchy hooks, and killer beats. You wanna get off your ass, stomp your feet, flail your arms, and sing at the top of your lungs.

Shall we hit some of the highs? Scissor Sisters lead strong with "Laura," begins with pounding piano chords and bouncing bass, picking up wailing guitars and saxophone along the way, building to the most pants-pissing climax of the year. On the opposite end of the disco vs. rock spectrum, you'll find "Filthy and Gorgeous." Sporting the album's funkiest bass-line, shameless vocoder falsetto and dirty distorted guitars, this track induces some serious booty shaking. Finally, the aforementioned "Return to Oz" opens with a single acoustic guitar and a wandering melody and, over the course of five minutes, builds to the second most pants-pissing climax of the year. You'll be convinced that Scissor Sisters contracted David Gilmour for this wailing guitar solo. Also, check out the fucking brilliant lyrics: "We thank the world with smiles and clenching jaws." Or try the chorus: "Is this the return to Oz? The grass is dead, the gold is brown, and the sky has claws."

Of course, we should also hit the lows. First, the "Comfortably Numb" cover. Now, I appreciate Scissor Sisters' appreciation for Floyd, because. . . well, Floyd were gods. However, I can only describe the Scissor Sisters' "Comfortably Numb" cover as amusing. It's kinda funny to hear this Floyd classic re-clothed in disco-pop drag, but after you get over the novelty, you'll never feel like listening to this track again; the cheese-house beats and one note bass-line leave much to be desired. "Tits on the Radio" starts strong with dirty bass work, but never develops after the first thirty seconds. The album's ballad, "Mary," is deadly boring, chock-full of text-book key changes and cheesy lyrics like "When I'm down, you're always there, standing by to comfort me."

For some reason, I'm perpetually stuck reviewing terribly disjointed albums. Well, perhaps not disjointed. I should say "diverse" or "eclectic." Like I wrote earlier, the Scissor Sisters' debut hangs together reasonably well, because these guys write seriously tight hooks and melodies. Give or take a few songs, you won't care about genre pedigree. You'll just want to squeeze into your vinyl pants and dance.