When Scissor Sisters strolled flamboyantly onto the UK music scene in 2004, their self-titled debut album was lauded for its fun, fresh and forward-thinking attitude. The country embraced the colourful sounds and provocative lyrics - so much so that the record went seven times platinum. Their third album Night Work reached a respectable number two on the chart in 2010, but having never matched the highs of their debut, there's a feeling the band have everything to prove with their fourth outing.
Alas, theatrical pop is no longer niche - Lady GaGa made sure of that in 2009 - and much of Magic Hour feels like the group are playing catch-up. Calvin Harris-produced single 'Only The Horses' serves as the set's most chart-friendly anthem, while opener 'Baby Come Home' feels like a classic Scissor Sisters number with its funk-driven piano hooks and foot-stomping beats.
A hodge-podge of genres gives the record the feeling of an iPod playlist made up of 2011/12's tried and tested sounds. 'Keep Your Shoes On' plays with military beats and cartoonish synths and vocals, which results in a Santigold-styled composition. Elsewhere, 'Inevitable' is a smooth yet familiar-sounding '90s disco jam, while 'Self Control' is a fabulous soirée of Chicago house beats and synths. It's all good, but indistinctive.
'Let's Have A Kiki' is where the band feel most like they're looking ahead. "What's up it's Pickles, leave a message," the track begins before launching into a series of bitchy gossip soundbites over a heavy club beat primed for the catwalks of New York City. Unfortunately, dud tracks 'Year Of Living Dangerously' and 'The Secret Life Of Letters' stall the album's pace, but it's the band's continuing effervescence towards their own music four albums into their career that ultimately holds this collection together.
Tracks to download: 'Only The Horses', 'Let's Have A Kiki', 'Self Control' If you like this, you'll like: Azari & III, Sam Sparro, Madonna
Watch the music video for Scissor Sisters' 'Only The Horses' below: