SCISSOR SISTERS Scissor Sisters (Polydor)
Unashamedly partying like it's 1979, Scissor Sisters (by name Paddy Boom, Babydaddy, Jake Shears, Ana Matronic and Del Marquis) distil the very essence of the year into trashy, camp, disposable but ornately engineered, lovingly crafted pop musik. This, their debut, is a fantastical fairytale of an album.
"Laura" blends 10cc and Supertramp together seamlessly with early Prince ("Come on/Come on", says the lyric sheet, although the featured Sisters' pronunciation is a shade more, uh, Jacksonesque), and "Take Your Mama" is eerily reminiscent of Elton John, and not just because of the prominent piano. And if the phenomenon crumbled to dust tomorrow, at least the world would be a happier place for the existence of their preposterously enjoyable hear-The-Bee Gees-sing-and-play-the-laborious-concepts-of-Pink Floyd assault on "Comfortably Numb".
There's more, of course. "Mary" is a swooning, swooping ballad, only the hard-edged digital percussion reminding the listener that it isn't something Paul Gambaccini could conceivably have played during his Saturday afternoon American chart rundown on Radio One a quarter of a century ago. Were the millennium a little younger "Tits On The Radio" would have been spat out by Peaches over a clattering electroclash backdrop: these days it's bass heavy and robofunky, like a Gary Numan gig in a sauna.
If the creeping suspicion begins to form that the Scissor Sisters' template isn't quite nourishing enough to sustain itself over an entire album, the last two tracks provide succour and encouragement. "It Cant Come Quickly Enough" evokes the Pet Shop Boys' monumental "Being Boring" with its judgement day requiem for lost youth and squandered opportunity ("We knew the answers/And we shouted them like anthems/Anxious and suspicious/That God knew how much we cheated"), and the crashing final comedown of "Return To Oz" shatters the illusion with understated elegance.
Why do I find it so invigorating, rather than faintly depressing (Franz Ferdinand, yes?), to tick off all these influences? Maybe it's because nobody's trying to sell Scissor Sisters as the feral howl of youth revolution, or perhaps it has something to do with the way the Sisters revel in and celebrate the music they love, rather than attempt to frantically, breathlessly outpace it in the optimistic belief that nobody will make the connection. And, warmingly, can it really be a coincidence that the picture of the band on the inner sleeve finds them, on superficial inspection at least, striking identical poses to those Roxy Music spread across the gatefold of "For Your Pleasure"?