Summer Music Reviews: Scissor Sisters, Wolf Parade, Laurie Anderson

Scissor Sisters, Night Work (Downtown/Fontana) The glam-pop foursome dust off their glittered jumpsuits and return to the last days of disco on their third studio effort, Night Work. With the release of Scissor Sisters’ underwhelming sophomore album, 2006’s Ta-Dah, critics wondered how long they could keep up the disco routine. Surprisingly, it’s still a potent brew, especially when the group’s fiery female performer, Ana Matronic, delivers an ode to a potential lover on the lustful “Any Which Way”: “You know baby, when I was taking my pantyhose out of their egg this evening, I thought, I’m gonna find that man who has the right shade of bottled tan, a man that smells like cocoa butter and cash.” Once again, the Sisters prove that debauched excess can be a riot of frothy fun. —Eiseley Tauginas

Health, Disco2 (Lovepump United) On their fourth studio album (and second remix release), L.A. club kids Health remind us that their name is drenched in irony. The noise rockers’ latest offering is a dance-driven compilation of carnal remixes and synth-splattering beats that will alternately lull listeners into a trance and whip them into frenzy. Bands like Pictureplane and Crystal Castles reinterpret the nihilistic industrial-disco of Health’s 2009 release, Get Color, creating new tracks that run the gamut from blissful (Gold Panda’s “Before Tigers”) to disorienting (Castles’ “Eat Flesh”), but the album’s high point is Tobacco’s “Die Slow,” a fast-paced, head-spinning tour de tech. Disco2 is a must for coke-fueled Bret Easton Ellis enthusiasts and anyone with a taste for intricate, electro scrambling. —Ashley Simpson

Delphic, Acolyte (Dangerbird) The road to indie hell is paved with hordes of bands that have tried (and failed) to fuse rock and electronica. Fortunately, Manchester quartet Delphic, who placed third in the BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll, prove that the synth-pop zeitgeist isn’t yet moribund. Because the melodies of Acolyte are understated and its electronic backing discreet, the album can feel anemic at times—but after a few listens, it gets under your skin, propelled forward by nods to New Order, Orbital and Underworld. “Doubt” offers the first hint of euphoric electro-rock potential, but the real gems come later on, when the title track sets off 25 minutes of bliss with “Halcyon,” “Submission” and “Counterpoint.” Delphic transcends coma-inducing, Mancunian dance-club filler, prompting an epiphany: This album is really fucking good. —Alexandra Vickers

Wolf Parade, Expo 86 (Sub Pop) One could call Wolf Parade’s third studio album “dense.” One could also go with “smart” or “danceable.” Most impressive, however, are Expo 86’s many layers. Kicking off with “Cloud Shadow on the Mountain,” a kooky, Bowie-esque track, the album then segues into more refined territory: “Yulia” is erratic but sincere, while “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)” and “Ghost Pressure” set the tone for a surprisingly upbeat album filled with cerebral lyrics and a myriad of musical influences. The album’s title refers to the Vancouver World’s Fair, which each band member attended in his youth, but the Montreal-based foursome seems more interested in the future. The result is artful, unpredictable and fun. —Cayte Grieve

Kele, The Boxer (Glassnote) If Bloc Party is a debate between post-punk and dancefloor electronica, then its lead vocalist, Kele, has taken a definitive pro-techno position on his debut solo experiment, The Boxer. His weapons of choice include synthesizers and funky vocal manipulators, among other electronic gadgets. The boot-camp cadences of Boxer’s opening track, “Walk Tall,” set the album’s tone as an island party for the broken-hearted, while the spare arrangements on “Yesterday’s Gone” will help ease even the hardest of revelers into Sunday morning. Like a sanguine traveler desperate to test his limits, Kele doesn’t rest on his laurels, instead forging ahead into strange new territory. Listeners yearning for Silent Alarm: Round II will be disappointed; everyone else will be delighted. —William Kangas

Laurie Anderson, Homeland (Nonesuch) It’s been nearly a decade since performance artist and experimental singer-songwriter Laurie Anderson last released a studio album. One listen to Homeland, and the delay makes perfect sense. Over 12 storytelling tracks, Anderson tackles many of the problems that have come to define the past decade: post–9/11 insecurities, economic turbulence and war crimes. Wailing vocals and wearily delivered spoken word frame her heartfelt ruminations, as do appearances from her male alter ego, Fenway Bergamot. Vivid images (“She made herself a bed inside my ear, every night I hear”) and direct confrontations (“I pretend that you love me, you pretend that you care”) make for uneasy but lovely listening. Homeland isn’t issue-shy, and coming from Anderson, we wouldn’t want it to be. —AS

The Postelles, The Postelles (Astralwerks/Capitol) Here’s a mouthful: Is the Postelles’ The Postelles actually the Strokes’ Is This It? The similarities between both bands are too staggering to ignore. Like the adored New York five-piece, the Postelles—all handsome twenty-somethings—met at school and bonded over their mutual love of buoyant garage rock. Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. even produced five of the 11 tracks on the hook-filled album. Mastering the sound and hang-ups of their forbears, the band writes songs about breakups (“Hold On”), parties (“Sleep on the Dance Floor”) and the one that got away (“Hey Little Sister”). You might say it’s a stroke of genius. —ET

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