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Music review: Broadcast – Future Crayon April 19, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.
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When I first heard “Future Crayon” I assumed it was a new release. I was bit surprised, considering “Tender Buttons” was released just this past year, but I quickly dove into the 18 tracks with optimism. It turns out that “Future Crayon” is actually a compilation of rarities, including b-sides, live favorites and tracks previously only available on compilations. For an album full of old songs, I’m quite astounded. This could easily be a new release and I would still be at least partially impressed.

Songs like “Illumination” makes you wonder why it was demoted to “b-side” status in the first place. Others like “Small Song IV,” Locusts” and “Distant Call” are moody tracks brewing with an icy aura, but unfortunately are all a bit hard to decipher from one another. The instrumental tracks, like “Hammer Without a Master,” is the equivalent of slipping into a sinister ’60s gangster film with a booming bass and a subtle overflow of electronic bleeps. Other tracks like “Minus Two,” a sad attempt at experimentation, succeeds in being nothing but tedious. Luckily by then, the album is almost over.

Broadcast has a trademark sound of modern electronics mixed with ’60s pop music. Although their sound hasn’t changed much, it has been tweaked and perfected. For a compilation that spans 10 years of their catalog, there doesn’t seem to be much variety. Most of the songs seem to come from the same musical period, and it’s hard to tell which songs are older or newer than others. In a way, “Future Crayon” magnifies Broadcast’s weaknesses, and that weakness is that their formula rarely changes. If a compilation spans 10 years, I should be able to hear the difference; instead, all the songs sound like leftovers from “The Noise Made By People.” On the plus side, it also showcases their strengths, which is Trish Keenan’s vocals. The instrumental tracks feel so bare and it’s not until Keenan shows up, even if it’s just for a second, that the tracks revive itself.

This is obviously a must for Broadcast fans, but there’s plenty of interesting things brewing to capture the interest of the new “Tender Buttons” fans as well. Ace.

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