Review: Jack Foley
AND now for something completely different.... Broadcast's first
album for three years is a completely surreal affair; an at times
beatiful, at others psychotic, mix of psychedelia and funk which
is as breathtaking as it can be downright annoying.
Broadcast hail from Birmingham and are comprised of Trish Keenan
( on vocals), James Cargill and Tim Felton. The album was recorded
in James' house bar, except for the drums, which were taped in
a church hall across the road.
And the result is like taking a drug-induced nostalgia trip through
the soundtracks of the Seventies, with many songs recalling the
infectious haze of Lalo Schifrin-based scores.
The album works best when delivering complete records - that
is to say, when Keenan's sexy, innocent vocals are backed by a
consistent beat, or background melody.
Unfortunately, it is not a consistent effort, with certain tracks
spiralling out of control in a mixture of bleeps, drum loops and
different directions that feel like experimentation for the sake
The soundtrack comparison, therefore, is particularly appropriate,
given that the scores to many movies are frequently punctuated
by musical moments which sound lost without a scene to accompany
Try listening to the sprawling mess of Minim, or the appropriately
named Distorsion, if you're not sure what I mean. They
will have you reaching for the skip button before you get even
But let's focus on the positives, of which there are many. Keenan's
vocals are, for the most part, sublime, lending a hypnotic quality
to many of the melodies and beats which help to transcend the
cinematic influences, while evoking memories of Dubstar, Saint
Etienne, or, more recently, Ladytron.
Whether it's recalling children's nursery rhymes (during tracks
such as Lunch Hour Pops, or The Little Bell), 60s
pop (Valerie), or the art of seduction (Oh How I Miss
You), there is a dream-like quality about them, which, according
to one journalist, float above the electro-pop like an indie-pop
If you can recall the vocal beauty of Petula Clark's Downtown,
then you're pretty much at the sound of Broadcast; although the
accompanying soundscapes are far more tripped-out.
Needless to say, for an album which thrives on its ability to
deliver on the surreal, it is a very acquired taste.
Those who prefer not to be challenged, musically, or require
structured, safe music, will find themselves lost; while the annoying
moments do tend to grate (rather like watching an art-house movie
that feels pretentious for the sake of it).
But with so much to admire, not least the affecting, enchanting,
and abstract beauty of Keenan's vocals, Broadcast's Ha Ha Sound
is well worth tuning into, and could well be a plesant surprise
1. Colour Me In
3. Before We Begin
5. Man Is Not A Bird
7. Lunch Hour Pops
8. Black Umbrellas
9. Ominous Cloud
11. Oh How I Miss You
12. The Little Bell
13. Winter Now