Sonic bookends: Scissor Sisters and White Widow

Scissors Sisters and Texas-based White Widow span a spectrum of styles

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Night Work • Scissor Sisters
Downtown Music

It’s hard to believe Night Work is only the third album from Scissor Sisters. They made an impression with their ’70s throwback sounds on their eponymous 2004 debut, followed by 2006’s Ta-Dah. Here, they make a stronger impression.

Sisters have worked with producer Stuart Price, and his synth-pop signature is all over the place. He’s given them a crisp overhaul — the band shines under his light.

They keep their retro sound, but Price flushes it out with an ’80s/early ’90s dance vibe that is also simple. None of the songs are overly complex, but like the title opener, there is a vibrant energy.

CUTTING CREW | Scissor Sisters go to the basics of dance music with success in ‘Night Work.’

Lead vocalist Jake Shears works his Barry Gibb falsetto masterfully in “Any Which Way,” but will recall the robotic vocals of Gary Numan and Devo in “Running Out” and “The Harder You Get.” Over the continual dance beats, the band makes a successful attempt at rekindling the new wave genre.

The Killers catch flak for their radio readiness, but when the Sisters mimic their sound in “Fire With Fire” and “Skin Tight,” they achieve a nice freshness. (The sound shouldn’t surprise — Price has worked with The Killers, too.)

The album’s only weak moment is Ana Matronic’s lead on “Skin this Cat.” The song slows the pace a bit and overall is forgettable. Shears glows so much that I want to get back to his energetic singing against an up-tempo beat quick.

Night Work’s lead single, “Invisible Light,” is worthy of “song of the year” lists. The captivating six-minute saga boasts hypnotic verses and an explosion of an inspired chorus. Throw in an Ian McKellen monologue and it achieves greatness.

Night Work makes you wish for the ideal dance floor: A DJ playing only these 12 tracks.

3 out of 5 Stars

Black Heart • White Widow
IODA

Austin-based White Widow’s album Black Heart is relaxed rock that grooves more than jams. The hollowness of it is so sexy it makes you want to take up smoking.

White Widow is Carla Patullo, who plays all the instruments, sings and produces. The out artist plays with confidence and there are pluses here. She asserts her singing with sublime smoothness in her cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Lady From the Mountain.” “In Your Life” is jarring because its acoustic touch differs from the tone and manages not to disappear into the overall fabric of the album.

But Black Heart also suffers by Patullo’s unwillingness to amp it up. Her songs bubble with harder rock flavor but never combust. Even what should sound edgier isn’t. The blues-tinted “Warriors” trails off into sleepy vocal runs missing the point of her own strong lyrics — we are/we are warriors.

White Widow did make a good album to get high to. Its ethereal attitude does call for some major down time. Ultimately though, Black Heart is one-note even with its bewitching quality.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas