The worst thing Scissor Sisters ever did for themselves was release their mega-selling debut six years ago. That eponymous effort was, and remains, a flawless and wickedly saucy work – and it has hobbled the band like a priapism that’s starting to go a funny colour.
Ana Matronic, Babydaddy et al may never again achieve such glory or perfection, and we shouldn’t expect them to do so. But we can hope. And we can enjoy the fact that the band are still capable of spraying their fans’ faces with jets of hot, sticky pop – albeit the kind that washes away more easily than the hits of 1994.
Night Life is the Sisters’ third album. It eschews the vaudeville-style romps that blighted its predecessor, Ta-Dah, and sticks to what’s most like to turn on its listeners: a sweaty orgy of disco, glam rock, the classic New York club sound and singer Jake Shears’s single-entendre lyrics. (Harder You Get means exactly what you think it means.)
But just ‘cause the band are filthy/gorgeous, it doesn’t mean they don’t take their work seriously. Night Work nearly didn’t happen. The Sisters shelved the first effort after 18 months of writing and recording because they felt it wasn’t up to snuff. Thankfully, they got back into the studio to create something they insist is “super-sexual and sleazy”.
In fact, gussets will probably remain mostly dry – although chests and armpits will almost certainly issue forth cascades of sweat caused by dancing to the uber-camp of the title track, Running Out (which seems to allude to that year-and-a-half wasted) and Any Which Way (in which Ana is happy to be knobbed in front of her mum and dad).
The first half has the catchier cuts, but it’s in the second that the band try to surprise with a suite of tracks. Skin This Cat sounds like it could come from the Giorgio Moroder soundtrack of a crime flick circa 1983. Night Life begins and ends with a cacophony of rave whistles, and Invisible Light is the nearest thing the Sisters have to an epic. It enters “the doors of Babylon” and then prowls for six minutes through a fantasy world of “painted whores” and “sexual gladiators” described by Sir Ian McKellen as if he were Vincent Price receiving a perfumed handjob.