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Tuesday, January 13, 2004
I like a lot of things about this article about the Scissor Sisters--the mention of "I Can't Go For That," singing "Hey Ya" around a campfire, although the Destiny's Child thing is just plain old not true (if you don't think that, say, "Say My Name" is unmelodic, you have a weird conception of music)--but I think the thing I like most is their use of "post-electroclash." It was pretty usual at the time (i.e. 2002) to rip on electroclash as something trendy and empty and mindlessly retro and worthless. And sure, some of it was. But there were those who saw it not for what it was at the time, but for what it could be--as not a final, finished product, but as a Great Awakening of sorts, an infusion of fresh blood and ideas into pop. It was a big open invite reading: hey, you can do whatever you want here. You don't have to be limited to guitars or rock or singer-songwriting or whatever's honorable. Look at pop history, and realize that the technology used to make any and all of those sounds is now available for pennies on the dollar, or for free in the form of computer emulators. Go listen to what you like and try and learn something from it--learn how to make it and meld it with other stuff and write your own songs and produce them however sounds best. Electroclash was limiting, sure, and a bit too easy, but I always was and continue to be interested in hearing where people take it. So far, with bands like LCD Soundsystem, the Scissor Sisters, and the continuing sophistication of still-electro acts like Vitalic, Komtrahn, and Legowelt, it's been pretty rewarding. Watch the skies.
I also like this neat little bit of music criticism:
Is "gayness" important to what the Scissor Sisters do? Shears is quick to respond. "Is straightness important to Bruce Springsteen?" Yes, because his music is almost oppressively heterosexual. Matronic finds this hysterical. "I don't think Springsteen is that calculated."
Of course, the "oppressively heterosexual" thing is bullshit, but it's endearing that he said it, and it's even more endearing that Ana saw fit to shoot him down. That's a good sign for a band, when members are willing to argue each other out of their stylistic fixations.
Then there's this:
"As the Darkness have done with 1970s and 1980s pomp metal, the Scissor Sisters have rescued commercial 1970s and 1980s middle-of-the-road music from the dustbin of kitsch history."
Well, there's important distinctions there. I do like the Darkness, a good bit, but they could never pull off sincerity, which is a pity, since that sincerity produced some of pomp metal's best artifacts. The fact that they don't take themselves seriously in the slightest while still being quite devoted to that style of music makes them lovable--is, indeed, their whole reason for existing--but it's also a limitation inherent to the genre. The Scissor Sisters, on the other hand, clearly have an unironic love for a lot of the styles they inhibit. You really need to look no further than "Mary," a totally straight up Elton John/Billy Joel piano ballad with an unapologetic chorus effect on the guitar during the breaks that you just can't pull off without actually having a great affection for "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" and "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" and, what's more, be totally unembarassed about singing those songs on a large stage in front of lots of people. It's just too sincere a song to do otherwise. This doesn't make the Scissor Sisters better than the Darkness, necessarily, but it is qualitatively different. From that acoustic guitar comment you can tell that they're concerned with longevity--indeed, they write so many friggin' songs (their forthcoming album has songs on it that weren't on their first version of the album, and at their show on Saturday they played two or three even newer songs, bringing them to a rough total of 30 releasable songs in a year and a half) that they'd have to be--and this particular technique is a good one in pursuit of that goal. I really like 'em, and really like the songs, and look forward to seeing where they go with it. (DFA remix! DFA remix! Or at least Metro Area!)
If you haven't already, check out Matthew's post on that show. It really was a blast. The band rocks pretty hard live, and it's just generally a lot of fun. Yeah, I'm a fan now.