It feels like a lifetime since we last heard a Scissor Sisters album, but could Jake Shears’ new solo debut be the closest we’ll get to it in 2018? The answer is both yes and no, as, while the self-titled record doesn’t forget that iconic SS sound, it does manage to represent Shears’ personality, both in its lyrics and its production.
Jake Shears serves up a journey of nostalgia, combining traditional pop ballads with a country inspired feel to an album that sounds both familiar and original at the same time.
The opening introduction suggests an orchestral direction, but as the album kicks off properly with ‘Good Friends’, it’s clear Shears just wants to make catchy pop anthems that project his current situation. Vocally, this first track shows that while Shears can still hit those high notes when he needs to, his voice has matured well, and there seems to be a bit more depth to his vocal range.
‘Big Bushy Mustache’ is a humorous track which sees Shears bragging about the size of his moustache and how proud he is of it. He references other guys who want to grow their own, but can’t because their girlfriend: “Says they’re trash”. It’s the sign of a man clearly very confident and in control of his life.
‘Sad Song Backwards’ is a singalong, country-inspired number. Despite its upbeat nature, the track has a pretty dark subject matter, dealing with the struggles of a breakup and the negative effect it can have on your self esteem.
The album juggles the struggles of love, but is also reassuring as Shears shows both his sadness and happiness as passing moments and does not seem somebody stuck in a rut. On ‘All For What’, the dreamlike, soothing production contrasts particularly well with Shears’ vocals and is a prime example of him doing a ballad at his best.
It becomes quickly clear that next track ‘S.O.B.’ is an acronym for “Sex On The Brain” and the catchy, sexually confident anthem wouldn’t sit out of place on a Lady Gaga album.
Lead single ‘Creep City’ is a messy but fun anthem, but is a little surprising as a single choice. While it’s an enjoyable track, it doesn’t really represent the album, but this says more about the quality of the other songs than it does anything else.
As the album draws to a close, Shears finishes with ‘Mississippi Delta (I’m Your Man)’, a track that praises the support from his fans and expresses his new found confidence in himself post-breakup. It’s a fitting finale to the album that leaves the listener wanting more.
Whilst this album is likely to give Scissor Sisters fans the fix they need, there’s a whole new side of Shears we haven’t seen before and while it could’ve gone either way, he definitely comes out on top with this release.
This record proves that Shears is still as relevant now as he was back in 2004, when his band released their own debut. There might not be a chart hit in the form of ‘Laura’ or ‘Comfortably Numb’ on here, but that’s not what Shears is aiming for. The album defies the critics who may have doubted Scissor Sisters’ later work and is an agglomeration of his own personal thoughts and influences.