Midway through the 2000s, theft with an artful nod and wink has become quite fashionable, and frilly is the new black. Combos like Chromeo and the Electric Six are finding mileage in long-shuttered, retrospectively laughable genres like synth pop and new romantic, and revisiting disco's most damning elements with a vigor for recombination. The results certainly elicit some snickering, but they can also be too cool -- or, for the insecure, too much of a guilty pleasure -- to ignore. New York's Scissor Sisters access these ideas and more on their debut full-length for Polygram. The eponymous release is a gleaming composite of epic, unabashedly pretty '70s songwriting and fancy-pants disco hedonism, reflecting the decadent dance-pop afterglow of all that George Michael wrought. "Lovers in the Backseat" is powered by the androgynous groove of Michael's "Everything She Wants." "Jealous glances/Now I'm lookin' for another song on the radio," they sing. "I'll take it to a side street/In the shadows you can touch one another/And I'll just watch the show." This flirty, satiny sexuality tingles in every lyrical inch of Scissor Sisters, as the Sisters save their subtlety for the songcraft. Opener "Laura" is a swaggering, absolutely irresistible update of vintage Stevie Wonder, illustrated with piano breaks and a honking sax. "Take Your Mama" chirps in a high register, a honky chateau dreamland of the Beta Band covering Elton John. All of this wackiness occurs before Scissor Sisters drop their dusky dancefloor version of "Comfortably Numb." They're hopped up over a twittering glitterball beat, referencing Frankie Goes to Hollywood and the Bee Gees even as the song functions as a Floyd redux. "I! I! I've become...'fortably numb!" As fun as all of this is (and the lip-smack glam of "Music Is the Victim" is very, very fun), the Sisters' revisionism can also get them in trouble. "It Can't Come Quickly Enough"'s dance-pop is too accurate, getting the bland side way too right, while "Return to Oz" cribs from Pink Floyd without the salve of artful dance club redirection. Still, these missteps are forgivable when pseudonyms like Del Marquis and Paddy Boom populate the band. Like some of their in-the-know peers, Scissor Sisters are happy to raid rock and pop's simpering peony past to soundtrack the parties and prurience of the silvery present day.
Johnny Loftus, Rovi