Scissor Sisters Night Work Downtown/Polydor
The boys (and girl) that make up the Scissor Sisters have invited a wider range of influences into their decadent pop party than they have on previous efforts. And the result is a leaner, meaner and more interesting album.
While their last effort, 2006’s “Ta-Dah,” was overflowing with piano-driven, slightly funky ’70s pop, “Night Work” incorporates a massive dose of synth-heavy electro-pop and new wave. The collection of songs sways from techno-laced dance grooves on tracks such as “Sex and Violence” and “Invisible Light” to the Devo-esqe intensity of the title track and “Nightlife.”
In less capable hands, diving into new wave would render the group’s sound somewhat cold and robotic, but the Sisters deftly manage to keep their infectious swagger and sense of fun on tracks like “Running Out” and “Harder You Get,” the latter of which channels a powerfully sinister Lou Reed vibe.
Longtime fans of the group can rest assured that “Night Work” is all slick mechanics. There’s still plenty of their glittery ’70s-rock posturing to go around on tracks like “Whole New Way” and “Fight Fire With Fire.”
“Night Works” proves the Scissor Sisters still have the ability to excite.
Cassidy Haley and the Sunshine Rebels The Fool Independent
This out singer-songwriter and clothing designer straddles the fence between folk music and electronic rock on his first full-length album and, for the most part, it works.
Most artists have a hard time getting electronics to play nice with acoustic guitars, but Haley’s songwriting chops and attention to detail makes the marriage quite convincing, especially on tracks such as “Spindle,” “This Time” and “Dying to Live.”
And Haley knows when to give the electronics a rest and when to let them run wild. He allows the guitars and his voice to take center stage on “Fly,” “Daylight Breaks” and “Burn.” Later, he lets the machines go crazy on the purely electronic “Ride the Night.”
“The Fool” may not be the most accessible collection of tunes you’ll hear this year, but Haley’s talent for crafting lush and sometimes atmospheric rock songs definitely merits keeping an ear open.
William Control Noir Victory Records
Kudos to Control (aka William Francis, vocalist for horror-punk group Aiden) for evolving the pedestrian electro-goth that plagued his first album, 2008’s “Hate Culture.” That previous effort, which threw the sounds of early Depeche Mode and The Killers into a blender with cheesy dark lyrics, was something that, for the most part, was only listenable by the teen masses waiting in line for “Twilight” tickets.
“Noir” is a significant step up in quality across the board. The lyrics are far more mature, the music is more refined and Control’s performance is more assured. But the fact that his semi-dramatic spoken-word interludes are still as interesting (if not more so) than the bulk of his songs is kind of troublesome.
Nevertheless, Control seems to have graduated from early synth-pop Depeche Mode to peak arena-rock “Violator”-era Depeche Mode on tracks like “My Lady Dominate.”
Still, he’s not even close to being as good as the albums he draws inspiration from, but at least he’s getting better at channeling his influences.
Other tracks like “All Due Restraint,” “I’m Only Human Sometimes” and “Why Dance with the Devil, When You Have Me?” should definitely appeal to the grown-up fishnets and corset crowd.
The cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is a nice and unexpectedly sincere surprise in this collection, as is the somber piano-driven title track and the acoustic “Soliloquy.”
It’s far from perfect, but Control’s “Noir” is a pleasant-enough listen and a much better stab at greatness than his last album.