Scissor Sisters go to "Work" to win U.S. fans

Fri Jun 4, 2010 10:21pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Kerri Mason

NEW YORK (Billboard) - In Europe, the American band Scissor Sisters are full-fledged pop stars, with No. 1 albums and sold-out tours. But in the United States, the brassy and bold five-piece hasn't managed to break through.

The Sisters' 2004 self-titled debut album spent 113 weeks on the U.K. chart, four of them at No. 1, and was the best-selling album of that year, with 2.7 million copies sold; follow-up "Ta-Dah" hit No. 1 and spent 50 weeks on the chart, selling 1.4 million, according to the Official Charts Company. But in the States, "Ta-Dah" topped out at No. 19 on the Billboard 200, "Scissor Sisters" never reached the top 100, and the two albums have sold about 500,000 copies combined, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Still, as they prepare to release album No. 3, "Night Work" (Downtown, June 29), the band and its team aren't focused on closing the international gap.

"They blew up in a way that very few acts ever do in the U.K., and trying to replicate that here would not be a logical approach," manager Dave Holmes says.

Instead, they're leveraging the cutting-edge credibility and longer-term marketing strategy of their new label, Downtown Music (they were previously on Universal Motown), to reintroduce them to the United States with what might be their most accessible album yet.

"We're approaching them like a new artist," says Josh Deutsch, chairman/CEO of Downtown, home to Gnarls Barkley and Justice. "'Night Work' has the kind of energy associated with both their first records."

Produced by dance-pop specialist Stuart Price (Madonna, Seal), the album takes its inspiration from late-'70s/late-'80s New York, when disco was morphing into house and AIDS was ravaging the nightclub subculture. But the mood isn't bleak: Tracks like "Whole New Way" and "Any Which Way" twitch with a sexy charge, straddling bass-heavy grooves and staccato electro in dance-ready under-four-minute nuggets, with singer Jake Shears' glam rock warble.

But even with a first single like "Fire With Fire" -- a go-get-'em power anthem that channels Elton John -- the Sisters, with their campy stage show and gay-positive vibe, aren't the easiest band to take wide, something they themselves recognize.   Continued...