Warp - 2003 - 44 minutes
If there was such a thing as a musical map of the world, Broadcast would be Russia. Or Canada in December. There is lots of snow but occasionally the sun makes an appearance. The Birmingham band's soundscape appears a sparse and lonely one, from which great big icicles hang in the form of Trish Keenan's vocals.
The presumably ironically-titled 'Haha Sound', Broadcast's second album, is definitely not what you should pop on your stereo in an attempt to liven up a dull party. However, with its lush, often idiosyncratic, production it should definitely not be dismissed as bedroom music for the terminally miserable, or worse, consigned to the bargain bin.
It opens with the sad-sounding and delicate 'Colour Me In', a bored vocal sung over the backdrop of an accordion dying. It is songs like this that cause stuffy old male journos and DJs to write off Broadcast as "another one of those ice-maiden groups". But perhaps if they bothered to listen properly they would discover the loveliness within.
There are some gorgeous Spector-esque moments: 'Before We Begin' is multi-layered and vintage-sounding with its big drums and bells, while the harp-led arpeggio of 'Lunch Hour Pops' is sophisticated and charming. 'Winter Now' is all-Christmassy and 'Ominous Cloud' is much happier than the title suggests.
However, in between these rays of sun is a bit too much band-trapped-in-a-lift shenanigans. At times, the interludes, which involve much clashing and messing around with various knobs, get a little grating. It feels like Broadcast are having a private conversation and are refusing to let you in on the secret. But this is not a major problem. Like with Mercury Rev's 'Deserter's Songs', it just means having to get off your arse to skip to a proper track.
Initially hard to warm to, Broadcast's world is perhaps not somewhere you might want to emigrate to but it's certainly worth a visit.
Tracklisting: Colour Me In - Pendulum - Before We Begin - Valerie -Man Is Not A Bird - Minim - Lunch Hour Pops - Black Umbrellas - Ominous Cloud -Distorsion - Oh How I Miss You - The Little Bell - Winter Now - Hawk