When Scissor Sisters went on indefinite hiatus after the release of Magic Hour in 2012, it was both a moment for sadness and, for some, a moment of relief. They were one of the most visible gay acts on the scene, yet there was a sense of depletion in Magic Hour. The band needed to recharge themselves.
“When we started Scissor Sisters, we were just doing performance art in bars, and I think that’s all we ever thought it was going to be,” Jake Shears said. “We had such a great run. We did four albums. But my instinct was everyone needs to go be able to live their own lives now.
“I would never write off doing another Scissors record — I think we probably will someday. But that’s why it stopped, because I felt like it was time to give everybody time to find their own way.”
Shears’ way has lead him to the release of his eponymous solo release, and it’s a luxurious reminder of his talents as a singer, songwriter and all around entertainer. Along with John Grant and the ascendant Troye Sivan, Shears is one of the best artists we’ve got.
Jake Shears opens with an instrumental snippet that’s like a Van Dyke Parks or Danny Elfman orchestration: jaunty, goofy, with a whiff of cotton candy under a circus tent. But once that’s out of the way in a brief 25 seconds, in rushes the boom time shoutout to “Good Friends” and we’re partially back in Scissor Sisters territory (the song is reminiscent of “Take Your Mama” from their debut).
We’ve already introduced you to the easy swing and muscle of “Big Bushy Mustache” (which would be sexier if I couldn’t stop imagining Shears in a dark bob like the menacing robotic androgynes in the second season of Legion!). Elsewhere Shears plays with glam blues on “The Bruiser,” rock cabaret on “Creep City” and some swampy boogie on “Sad Song Backwards.” Throughout the arrangements are surprising and precise — New Orleans horns crop up on a handful of tracks, funky Stevie Wonder-style synths grace a few numbers (is that a synclavier?) — while Shears is in strong voice, employing that Bee Gees falsetto for punctuation and color.
Like nearly every other gay man I know (and a fair number of straight women, too), I miss Scissor Sisters. But if Shears keeps putting out records as good as this one, I will just have to learn to live with my disappointment. And you will, too.