Broadcast Tender Buttons

Birmingham’s Broadcast have always been innovators with each of their previous three albums, and their fourth is no exception. If anything, Tender Buttons is the furthest leftfield they’ve travelled, a move obviously instigated by the choice to push forward as a two-piece — singer Trish Keenan and bassist James Cargill. This downsizing in members has influenced the band to strip away the live sound of 2003’s Haha Sound and crawl into a more austere minimalism filled with programmed drumbeats, a consistent resonant hum and Keenan’s disparately hot and cold tones. While they’ve nothing here quite as accessible as the retro-pop greatness of past tunes like "Come On Let’s Go” and "Ominous Cloud,” it’s this flow of uniformity mixing hypnotically experimental song structures with colourfully textured melodies that makes Tender Buttons both their most consistent and most radical work. "Michael A Grammar” is a soothing cut that moves to a Teutonic beat in order to complement the pulsating synth and Keenan’s aloof vocals. "Corporeal” furthers their interest in motorik Krautrock, layering a simple riff with some beautiful interference, while the terse "Bit 35” is practically Neu! reincarnated. The title track and "Tears in the Typing Pool” though reveal their finest experiments incorporating acoustic guitars into the moody synthetic droning, causing a salient fusion between two different worlds. Tender Buttons may not be filled with the tenderness of past Broadcast(s), but the beauty of this noise is one step closer to heaven. (Warp)