Album Reviews: Scissor Sisters by Scissor SistersLike their New York burlesque/performance art brethren Fischerspooner, Scissor Sisters' music is almost an afterthought, a campy soundtrack to their theatrical live shows. That being said, this Elton John-obsessed quintet's debut album is far better than it has any right to be, and certainly a far cry from Fischerspooner's electro-pop posturings. Yes, everything here is derivative, but nearly all of it works, thanks largely to Jake Shears' pitch-perfect falsetto and a grasp of '70s pop cliches so firm that the sly nods to earlier songs become part of the fun.
The most obvious example of this is their love-it-or-hate-it cover of "Comfortably Numb," which transforms the Pink Floyd classic into a Bee Gees homage, but most of the Scissor Sisters' best moments are cheeky riffs on familiar hits. The first single "Take Your Mama" apes Honky Chateau-era Elton John, "Lovers in the Backseat" cops the jittery beat of David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes," "Mary" sighs longingly like a lost David Cassidy ballad. It takes a lot of chutzpah, or gall, or possibly both, to knowingly echo so much great music in a single album, but Scissor Sisters pull it off with panache.
If you like music that at least tries to sound original, you'll dismiss Scissor Sisters as the latest in a growing list of acts that coast along on nostalgia for a lack of talent. But if you count cagey repurposings of old sounds as a talent in itself, you'll find much here to enjoy. - Andy Hermann
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