Two years ago, the campy New York-based quintet Scissor Sisters took Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" to the dance floor, shoved the prog rock chestnut in a box, and sent it express bound for Bee Gees country. Though fans of the group lumped them into the electroclash scene, they wisely avoided becoming too associated with a movement based on cheap nostalgia and little discernible talent.
That's probably why there are ballads and straight-up piano rockers on the Scissor Sisters' self-titled debut, tunes that others might be too embarrassed to parade around the dance floor but make perfect sense in their disco ball-illuminated world. These mostly smart songs proudly wear influences, particularly the aforementioned Gibb brothers as well as Elton John and T. Rex, like a badge of honor. They also demonstrate a songwriting depth without relying too heavily on loop-based tracks. In fact "Filthy/Gorgeous" proves that Lil' Flip isn't the only one who can work wonders with a Pac-Man sample. Meanwhile "Return to Oz" closes the album out on a note of grand pomposity as if it were one of Dennis DeYoung's "Mr. Roboto" operas for Styx. Admittedly the album is so over-the-top that it's hard to believe the Scissor Sisters are serious, but once the too-sweet candy coating melts off there's still some substance left.