Album review: "Magic Hour"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, June 29, 2012
Everybody off the dance floor! The playfully kinky Scissor Sisters dabble in techno and hip-hop on their fourth glam-disco album, “Magic Hour,” which features an abundance of collaborators. But so much of the set is devoted to bland ballads that it sometimes sounds as if the Sisters have become wallflowers at their own orgy.
The quintet emerged a decade ago out of New York’s gay clubs, but its main songwriters -- singers Jake Shears and Ana Matronic and keyboardist Babydaddy -- have mainstream melodic tastes. That’s why the group, which remains a cult attraction in the United States, has scored actual chart hits in Britain. But after the Sisters’ previous album, “Night Work,” proved their least successful in the U.K., they enlisted outside help. Rapper Azealia Banks and producers Calvin Harris, Diplo, the Neptunes and Boys Noize all contribute to “Magic Hour.”
The results are not always enchanting. “Baby Come Home” and “Only the Horses” are brash and catchy; “Inevitable” eerily channels the Bee Gees; and the stark, jumpy “Let’s Have a Kiki” is appealingly odd. But at least four of these dozen tracks are certifiable party-killers. And because the Sisters keep their songs at less than four minutes, that means the album’s highlights add up to barely a half-hour of magic.