Try a little tenderness!
Now stripped to the core duo of singer Trish Keenan and multi-instrumentalist / programmer James Cargill, Broadcast’s thrid album places a greater emphasis on song-writing and lyricism, and less on sonic experiment. Whereas ‘Ha Ha Sound’ was a sprawling epic of icy lullabye and often abrasive rythmic and textural abstraction, ‘Tender Buttons’ has less distractions and is more fine-tuned, but is overall perhaps not as impressive a record. Opener ‘I Found the F’ pitches Nico-esque vocals against live-sounding drum breaks and heavily distorted keyboards – continuing and refining Broadcast’s damaged, analgogue soundscape with excellent results. Elsewhere the rythmns are more overtly synthetic and minimal, and the pounding percussive assaults of ‘Ha Ha Sound’ largely forgotten. ‘Black Cat’ displays mildy gothic sensibilities against typically deranged loops of synth and guitar, not dissimilar to Ladytron’s latest. Edgar Allan Poe goes electro, anyone? Other highlights include the My Bloody Valentine-tinged and politically loaded ‘America’s Boy’, and the gentle ‘Tears In The Typing Pool’, which shows a great aptitude for writing ballards (and could almost be a slightly less countrified Neko Case). Throughout the record there are fine lyrical touches (all included in the inlay card), with the vocals seemingly brought into greater focus than on previous efforts – the best tracks seem built around the vocals rather than the other way around. All in all its an impressive album, but sometimes lacking in the sonic adventure that defined ‘Ha Ha Sound’.