Haha Sound

Haha Sound

by Broadcast
     
 

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Broadcast are nominally a rock band, but they layer their guitars and drums with buzzing synthesizers, suggesting a devotion to Kraftwerk and an obsession with sonic texture that belies their songs' magnetic melodies. On their second album, Haha Sound -- a denser, more intricate follow-up to their stunning debut, The Noise Made bySee more details below

Overview

Broadcast are nominally a rock band, but they layer their guitars and drums with buzzing synthesizers, suggesting a devotion to Kraftwerk and an obsession with sonic texture that belies their songs' magnetic melodies. On their second album, Haha Sound -- a denser, more intricate follow-up to their stunning debut, The Noise Made by People -- the Birmingham, England–based group thrive on the dichotomy between light and dark, which pits Trish Keenan's sweet singing against a wash of dissonant sounds, recalling the Velvet Underground and lesser-known musical heroes the United States of America. "Colour Me In" sets a twisted nursery-rhyme feel for the album, with Keenan's coos riding a wave of warped synths, squawking strings, and keyboards that suggest a toy piano gone awry -- and that vibe carries through to several tracks. On "Valerie," Keenan sings atop acoustic guitar pluckings littered with recurrent buzzing synths and ambient noises, while on the hypnotic "The Little Bell," her vocals ring clear over a minimal rhythm. The psychedelic "Pendulum," however, swings into a darker territory that's more Alice in Wonderland than Little Bo-Peep -- imagine Krautrock-meets-Haight-Ashbury, with synths towering over tinny-sounding guitar work. Broadcast do lighten the tone on a few tracks -- notably the breezy "Before We Begin" and the lulling "Winter Now," one of several to benefit from waves of My Bloody Valentine–like "glide" guitar. But don't be fooled by the childlike quality of Broadcast's singsong melodies: Haha Sound is rife with complex moods and serious themes -- a truly mind-bending exploration of the rock band paradigm in the postmillennial era.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
On their early singles and brilliant debut album, The Noise Made by People, Broadcast's commitment to crafting meticulously, ethereally beautiful atmospheres gave their music a detached quality that made them somewhat difficult to embrace fully. This isn't the case on Haha Sound, the band's second album. While their music still sounds like it could've been crafted by ghosts in the machine, now Broadcast give it flesh and blood through more warmth and texture. As with the Pendulum EP, Haha Sound's more human touch comes through in its looser, more intimate, and rougher sound. But aside from being warmer and more textured, the album is simply more, as its first three songs reveal. The delicately spooky nursery rhyme "Colour Me In" begins the album with the wistful, childlike viewpoint that creeps into Haha Sound from time to time, its layers of chopped up, sawing strings giving it an oddly and sweetly tentative feel. "Pendulum" finds the band digging deeper into their psychedelic influences, with acid rock drumming and flashback-like washes of sound making it one of the most tense, driving tracks they've recorded. The Pendulum EP suggested that the entire album might be as wired and dissonant as this song, but tracks like "Before We Begin" quickly prove otherwise. A superstitious song about reuniting lovers, it's gorgeous pop in the vein of "The Book Lovers" and "Come On Let's Go," but more approachable and that much more alluring because of it. The rest of Haha Sound more or less follows in the footsteps of these songs, but the variety that the band instills in the album makes it far from monotonous. A big part of Haha Sound's expansive feel is Trish Keenan's increasingly expressive vocals; while she can still occasionally seem to be hovering slightly outside the songs, her delivery is much more vulnerable and emotive. She's soothing on "Valerie," which is Broadcast's idea of a folk song or lullaby -- although with all of its eerie background noises, sleeping with one eye open is suggested -- ecstatic on "Minim," and poignant on "The Little Bell," another sweetly childlike song that sounds like Keenan is singing inside a broken clock. Noisier aspects find their way into interludes like "Distortion" and "Black Umbrellas," a curious, fuzzy oompah that picks up speed like an out-of-control assembly line. "Man Is Not a Bird" concludes with a playful, Raymond Scott-esque percussive exercise. The spirits of Scott and Joe Meek haunt the album's carefully deconstructed sound, most obviously on its more extreme tracks, but even on gentler songs like the flight of fancy "Lunch Hour Pops," which has a giddy, space-age sweetness akin to the Tornadoes' "Telstar." This song, the beautiful "Ominous Cloud," and "Winter Now" suggest that Broadcast could probably make dozens of immaculate pop songs like these if they wanted to, but all the detours the band takes are precisely what make the more perfectly crafted songs so precious. Haha Sound may not be Broadcast's most superficially perfect album, but it's a more challenging and exciting one because of its deliberate imperfections.
Entertainment Weekly - Kristina Feliciano
Ghostly lullabies a mod mom might have sun to her child in the '60s. (B+)
Blender - James Slaughter
Never anything less than enthralling.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/12/2003
Label:
Warp Records
UPC:
0801061810627
catalogNumber:
8106

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