After spending three records exploring the expanses of disco and pop, the Scissor Sisters are changing their tune, moving the cabaret dramatics that have long informed their music and live show toward a less nostalgic sound. On Magic Hour, instead of wearing ’70s influences on their sparkly sleeves, the Sisters tiptoe toward R&B and electronic music. The shift is in part thanks to co-producers, German electronic producer Alex “Boys Noize” Ridha and Scottish DJ/producer Calvin Harris, whose past work accounts for some of the album’s genre-hopping and synth-heavy breaks.
There’s also a lineup of unexpected guests: Pharrell Williams and Diplo make songwriting appearances with “Inevitable” and “Year of Living Dangerously,” respectively; hip-hop bombshell Azealia Banks takes a verse on “Shady Love,” an unabashed play for radio charts; and John Legend provides the album’s most obvious hook, “Baby Come Home,” a soul tune amped up with a stomping beat and funky piano riffs.
The band’s appetite for adventure makes for a dizzying array of styles. Anthemic single, “Only the Horses,” lays a sugary pop melody over trancey dancefloor pop. The diversity is arresting but, lest anyone fear the Sisters have abandoned their roots, Ana Matronic’s percussive, Latin flared, drag-ready, “Let’s Have a Kiki” is there to calm. It’s as bitchy and playful as anything they’ve released and, better yet, makes as good an excuse for vogue-ing as any song in recent memory.