BOTTOM LINE The Scissor Sisters frontman embraces more parts of his personality on his solo debut.
It’s not that Jake Shears was ever shy, but as the Scissor Sisters’ frontman he recognized that he had certain duties to fulfill.
On his solo debut, “Jake Shears” (Frieda Jean), he gets to explore all sorts of personas — moving from the campy '70s dance anthems that were Scissor Sister staples to edgier rock, New Orleans funk and powerful pop.
“Sometimes I turn into someone else,” Shears sings in the funky “Clothes Off,” which uses big, '80s New Wave production to build a likely British smash. “Palace in the Sky” sounds like a lost Duran Duran classic from that era as well.
However, Shears, who has spent his past few years making his Broadway debut in “Kinky Boots” and writing his memoir, “Boys Keep Swinging,” has plenty more styles to trot out. “The Bruiser,” inspired by Queens of the Stone Age pal Josh Homme, could easily rock alternative radio, while “Sad Song Backwards” plays off the country idea of rewinding your life to fix a breakup.
He’s at his best, though, when he’s renovating ‘70s Elton John-styled piano pop for today’s more intense times. The first single, “Creep City,” makes his influences sound like a completely new invention, while opener “Good Friends” calls to mind Scissor Sisters breakthroughs like “Take Your Mama,” though it does include some New Orleans jazz horn solos to reflect his new home.
And Shears still has plenty of his envelope-pushing sense of humor. The fuzzed-out, rocking “Big Bushy Mustache” is an actual ode to facial hair, as he declares, “Takes a bushy mustache to show them who you really are.” The giddy “S.O.B.,” which stands for “Sex On the Brain,” is another winner, its throwback funk filtered through INXS.
Shears seems like a new artist on his solo debut, but one who has learned plenty about making music and about being himself.