Local Wire


After a two-year absence, Broadcast returns with Tender Buttons, a searing, minimalist pop record. Seeing how the band has gone from six members to two, Buttons' theme of "letting go" makes sense. Vocalist Trish Keenan and her only remaining bandmate, James Cargill, have toyed with the Broadcast concept a bit, maintaining the 1960s film soundtrack vibe (think Godard's Alphaville) but updating it with jarringly terse electronic beats and a contemporary context. "America's Boy," Buttons' first single, smartly addresses a non-American view of America's hyper-patriotism, without being didactic. The fuzzy keyboard feedback and steady drum machine make the listener focus on Keenan's celebratory musing on Texan oil and American soldiers. Meanwhile, "Tears in the Typing Pool" offers a pleasant respite from the austere percussion found throughout much of the record. The simple guitar and delicate keyboards here sound more like classic Broadcast material, on a smaller scale. Buttons succeeds by bringing the best of the old Broadcast and giving it a "make-under," so to speak. This simplicity breeds a satisfying album from start to finish. If this is what "letting go" sounds like, hopefully the duo will continue to run amok for many years -- and many albums to come.