When the Scissor Sisters hit No. 1 in the U.K. earlier this year, it prompted a lot of claims that, despite the Lower East Side Liberace élan, the group was not simply the latest here-today-gone-by-cocktail-hour novelty act to prick the ears of the Brits. And yet their self-titled debut includes a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” dressed up in enough feathers, lamé and Gibb-inspired falsetto to fit perfectly on the Saturday Night Fever sound track. Huh.
Indeed, the Scissor Sisters bite the asses of the Bee Gees, Elton John and even New Order with almost stunning accuracy, and employ enough we-really-mean-it sleight-of-hand and humor to make the Darkness blush. At times it works, such as the look-me-in-the-eyes wrist-slap of MTV culture “Tits on the Radio,” or “Take Your Mama,” which is perhaps the best song ever written about taking your mom to a gay bar. But tracks such as “Return to Oz” — an earnest reflection on the ravages crystal meth has visited on the gay community — move the party to pity and undermine the wink-nudge hijinkery. C’mon, who wants to get all serious when they’re fucked up on the musical equivalent of amyl nitrates?
E-mail Jonathan Mahalak at firstname.lastname@example.org.