Saturday, November 19, 2011
Broadcast have always had a rocky history with their line-ups; mostly drummers drifting in and out of the band. 2005 sees Broadcast reduced to a skeleton crew of Trish Keenan and James Cargill after the departure of their long time guitar player Tim Felton. The result of this is that their third and ultimately last album, Tender Buttons, takes a much more electronic route than anything broadcast have done before, almost taking a complete 180 in terms of their sound up until this point. This is probably my favourite album by them, like The Noise Made By People before it, it completely nails the aesthetic. Except this time the hazy atmosphere of albums past is replaced by an overall much more rigid feel, while retaining some warmth about the songs themselves.
Take for example, the opener. It's simple enough, the main hook is just descending keys, but they soon get lost in the sea of now trademark Broadcast sounds. It's a short one at just 2 minutes long, but it serves as a perfect demo of how the band works without a guitar.
Broadcast - I Found The F [click to download] |HTML5|
Broadcast haven't lost their experimental touch though, as heard on the second track, Black Cat. It's structured much like the opener with a heavy focus on the electronic side of things and I think the song is better for it, it just makes it complete.
Broadcast - Black Cat [click to download] |HTML5|
The title track sees Keenan's cryptic lyrics lathered over the contradictory sounds of a guitar and a lone synth. The guitar is the main focus at first until about 40 seconds in, when it gets kicked to the backseat and the synth steals the show. Despite this, it flows just as well as any of their acoustic tracks from albums past. It's just a shame it's all over so soon.
Broadcast - Tender Buttons [click to download] |HTML5|
I have a special place for this one in my library, as it was the first song I ever heard from Broadcast, a long time ago on a blog just like this one. The song just grabs you and is brilliant from the introductory plastic sounding drums all the way to the final fade out.
Broadcast - America's Boy [click to download] |HTML5|
Tender Buttons takes a mellow turn as we approach the middle of the tracklist. Keenan's vocals form the backbone of the song as it's mixed much higer than everything else. Unlike the songs before it her voice remains untreated (save for an echo) and will remain so for the rest of the album, as will the more subtle merging of the electronic and acoustic.
Broadcast - Tears In The Typing Pool [click to download] |HTML5|
I'll always remember Corporeal as it was my current favourite when I heard of Trish Keenan's untimely death early this year. Ever since then it's sounded bittersweet to me despite the underlying intimacy within the song itself. Still a highlight for me though.
Broadcast - Corporeal [click to download] |HTML5|
Heading briefly into upbeat territory again with Michael A Grammar. It's probably the poppiest sounding song on here, and the closest Broadcast get to sounding almost like an indie band. That's not a bad thing though, it's a welcome change from their usual material.
Broadcast - Michael A Grammar [click to download] |HTML5|
Tender Buttons gets it's title from a series of poems by Gerturde Stein in which she deconstructs clusters of words and re-defines them. The inspiration on the album has been seen before on the title track Tender Buttons, and is heard once again on this next one.
Broadcast - Subject To The Ladder [click to download] |HTML5|
Another upbeat sounding track that Keenan's vocals just shine on. That's pretty much all I can say, I just love what she does and this track is pretty much the best example of that on Tender Buttons. Even without the other 3 members around, the band makes amazing tracks.
Broadcast - Goodbye Girls [click to download] |HTML5|
The closing track is a different sound altogether: I Found The End is the opening keys of I Found The F repurposed, slowing them down to create a haunting ambient piece, a bit like Sigur Rós did on Avalon from Ágætis Byrjun. It also shares the twinned opener/closer like the Long Was The Year/Dead The Long Year on The Noise Made By People. Very fitting seeing as this was the last thing Broadcast released outside of collaborations and old material.
Broadcast - I Found The End [click to download] |HTML5|
That's it for Broadcast, when you put it like this it doesn't seem like a lot of music. Their three albums will pretty much always be in continuous rotation by me, and I hope some of you will as well.
Comb, Calm, Colour, Cortex,
-Claude Van Foxbat