The first Scissor Sisters album is one of the best debuts of recent years, particularly the opening four tracks, which show off the band's ability to move between various 70s and 80s inspired styles, ranging from Moroder style dance tracks to more emotional soft rock ballads. The second album, Ta-Dah! strayed more towards country and vaudeville styles, and though it's still very strong, it lacked some of the immediacy and power of their debut.
Night Work is a fantastic return to what made their first album so successful, and their strongest, most consistent album to date. The most frequent mode is the heavy synth 80s style pop that sounds like a modern version of the Flashdance soundtrack. It's dancable throughout, with some great up tempo ballads scattered throughout.
Album opener “Night Work” fits right in that uptempo 80s mode and starts things off on a great note. “Whole New Way” is closer to the 70s style of “Take Your Mama” or “Laura” from their debut, and is one of the album's highlights. The churning bass line and ethereal backing vocals integrate nicely with a horn line underscoring everything.
“Fire With Fire,” the album's first single comes next, a dance power ballad that shows off singer Jake Shears' vocal range like few other songs in their career. I love songs that are simultaneously danceable and emotional, and this is a great example of that mode. “Harder You Get” takes things in a darker direction, running a hair metal style chorus through a dance vibe, and topping it off with a great guitar riff.
The entire album is remarkably consistent, particularly the back third, which seamlessly shifts the up tempo ballad “Skin Tight” to the grittier dance floor rhythms of “Sex and Violence,” leading eventually to the apocalyptic epic “Invisible Light,” which is ably supported by a great Ian McKellen voice over.
Ultimately what makes the album so great is that even as it riffs on 70s and 80s sounds, it does so in a way that feels totally unified and contemporary. This album isn't a pastiche of those sounds, it's pulling the best elements of the past together to pave the way to the future. By focusing on wrapping real emotions within those sounds, the songs become timeless. This is easily the best album of the year so far, and a career best for the band.