Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Broadcast / Tender Buttons / Rating 7.5

That said, this is still a Broadcast album, meaning it's one of the better things you'll put in your ear this year

Growing up my favorite episodes of I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched featured the mischievous twin sisters to the main female leading lady. Even Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks had a look-alike cousin who played good girl to her big bad self. Alter egos remove some of the limitations we associate with a character we are already familiar with. While there is no Trish Keenan and James Cargill evil twin, in spirit there is a new attitude in their place. The polite tip toe vocals, the brooding obscure psych 60’s soundtrack odes have escalated to something more vivid and brave.

Tender Buttons is Broadcast’s alter ego.

Calling Haha Sound a “sonic mess” was strike number one against this PFM review.
Strike two was the use of racket, raucous, and ruckus all is one review.
And strike three was PFM claiming “There's no such stand-out track on this album”

No no no no!

Broadcast have managed to finally break out of the rut (a gorgeous one at that) they have been in for the past 9 years and I promise you that in this particular case, the change is good. Tender Buttons may be a stripped down version of the original Broadcast lineup but there is more power to their (Haha) sound than ever. Some may call the blasts of static a counteractive blanket of noise but that layer plays a very specific dynamic roll. From a sound engineer’s point of reference this record is full of midrange to low-end tones but the metallic keyboards fill out the record by giving it some, well actually a lot, of treble. The record would sound flat and sink without these searing top end sounds.

Instead of lazy swaying to an entire Broadcast record there is actually something to dance to here and if dancing isn’t your thing a dignified version of head banging is totally possible. The tense charge radiating from Tender Buttons’ damaged electronics, simple kick snare blasts remind me of Goldfrapp’s newest record minus the overtly sexual glam and glitz. Trish’s voice calmly ice skates across the entire record smoothing out its rough edges while preserving a portion of the band's familiar sound we have grown attached to over the span of their discography.

Lastly if “America’s Boy” doesn’t scream lead single, I don’t know what does. This track best represents the new incarnation Broadcast and if after a sample listen you don’t love it… then I suspect this entire record isn’t for you.

This rating will have a choose your own adventure ending. If you don’t like the single the rating remains at the PFM level of 7.5 but if you like it as much as I do the rating jumps to an 8.5.