Published Jan 01, 2006Ambiguity is a risky tool. For Birmingham, UK's Broadcast, it has helped build a cloud of interest and intrigue around the band that even confuses the members. "Why do we always end up making this music, which we do want to make, that comes out in this non-pigeonholed kind of way?" asks singer Trish Keenan. "We sure don't make it easy for anybody, not even ourselves."
Since their 1997 debut, Work and Non Work, a compilation of early singles, Broadcast has raised eyebrows and caused heads to itch with their stunning avant-garde and cinematically slanted pop music. A three-piece that also includes James Cargill and Tim Felton, the band has always found it difficult to give and receive a proper description of what exactly they create as musicians. "It's the one thing that all bands want to avoid, but the actual reality of making music like that is that bands want to be considered unique," Keenan says. "But there is no section for unique music in any record shop, so you end up getting misconstrued and labelled difficult,' or way-out-weird.'"
With a sound that has brought on comparisons to contemporaries like Stereolab and yesteryear's innovators the United States of America, it's no wonder their records are constantly misplaced on the racks. "I'm always curious whenever I go into a record shop to see where they've put Broadcast," confesses Keenan. "It feels like we should always end up in the pop rock section but we never end up there. We're always in the experimental section, which we are not, or the Warp section or the chill-out/dance section."
On their second proper full-length, HaHa Sound, the band has continued their attack on well-defined music, sculpting another piece of idyllic, ultramodern electronica. "The weird thing is that people project onto us what they want to hear sometimes. For instance, there was one lighting man at a gig that said he'd loved the show and that it was like Siouxsie & the Banshees. When I turned around to get a good look at him he had a Siouxsie & the Banshees T-shirt on," she recalls. "It made me think that because we are not this definite thing, people want to find something in it that they're looking for, for themselves. It's all quite interesting to see."
HaHa Sound's boundless and blurred framework pushes the envelope even closer to the notion of a more pop-oriented sound. The 60s-tinged "Before We Begin" flutters like a classic by Petula Clark, while "Man Is Not A Bird" evokes Phil Spector producing a hit with My Bloody Valentine. With all of the melody in the air, something seems to be heading towards the direction of a proper sound. But Keenan is hesitant to make such a simple confirmation. "I think there are a lot of conventional songwriting aspects to Broadcast. It's funny because so many people have said that HaHa Sound is not as poppy as [2000's] The Noise Made By People. There's been a real split on it. Some people think it's very commercial, in the context with us, with a lot of pop harmony, and yet so many other people have said that it's not as catchy as the last album. Were we deliberately not trying to make a pop record? I don't know. I'm confused. I don't know what we've done."