Stuart Price’s Bank Manager will be a happy bunny as the Thin White Duke has overseen return-to-form albums for both the Scissor Sisters and Kylie (more about the Minogue later) – and the releases are separated by only a week. Night Work is a very appropriate name for an album dominated by two particular nocturnal activities – clubbing and sex. The weight of expectation which burdened the Sisters’ sophomore effort Ta Dah appears to have been lifted and Jake and Ana appear to be having fun again – indeed despite the album’s title it hasn’t appeared to be laboured at all (we’ll side-step the issue of the whole album of material being scrapped before Night Work was completed).
If Jake Shears was to be a literary character of fiction the obvious comparison would be Michael Tolliver (from Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series), wearing denim dungarees and nothing more whilst frequenting a San Francisco bath house before ending the night at a roller disco. Whether Ana Matronic is Mary Ann Singleton or Anna Madrigal is open to debate? The most recent instalment in that series of novels is entitled ‘Michael Tolliver Lives’ and indeed Night Work could have been named Jake Shears Lives, such is the revitalisation of the frontman with the most on display manfront in pop.
That said, Fire With Fire being a tad Killers’ Human-esque is a curious choice for first single and is hardly representative of the rest of the album, either thematically or musically – being more Wembley Arena than Studio 54. Much of the rest of the album is the dirtiest of disco, the grubbiest of which, Any Which Way, builds into an electronic frenzy, peaking (ahem) with Kylie’s orgasmic panting (described in the liner notes as backing vocals!).
For an American band who have been adopted as honorary Brits, it is no surprise to find nods to some classic as well as lesser-known UK pop. Whole New Way (which should have more courageously been called Hole New Way due to the subject matter) squelches along like it is George Michael’s ‘I Want Your Sex’ part 4. Running Out is ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ reimagined by Chungking. The album saves the best for last by closing with Invisible Light, which is ‘Two Tribes’ for 2010 and features an eerie monologue spoken by Ian McKellen. As well as the British influence there are also respectful bows to the Italo Disco of Giorgio Moroder and Cerrone.
Lyrically there is some tasty Carry On-style smut such as “I got some apples – you can grab ‘em” and “don’t point that thing at me unless you plan to shoot”. It’s this playfulness which makes the album such a pleasure. Price has managed to put new life into the band, much like he did with Madonna on Confessions On A Dancefloor (Jake and Ana beware, do not follow this with a Hard Candy). This is a band who have their mojo back – or as Will and Grace would say (and never more apt), their homojo.
Listen: SCISSOR SISTERS – Night Work