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Broadcast: Haha Sound



Album: Haha Sound
Label: Warp

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While the psychedelic palette usually runs toward spin-art color bursts and day-glo heat, Broadcast views it with a fine eye for gray tones. Singer Trish Keenan says as much on Haha Sound's first song, in which she deadpans "I am gray, still I'm okay, so color me in." But she hardly sounds like she means it. More in love with her morbid moods than their imagined resolution, Keenan has come to define Broadcast's distant vision of '60s trippiness, as played out in dank warehouse parties and industrial cityscapes. Broadcast earned an early tag as a Stereolab also-ran with 1997's Work And Non Work, but its members have taken their dried-out harmonies and analog dreams someplace darker and more suggestive over the past few years. Haha Sound is lighter than 2000's The Noise Made By People, but it's still in tune with psychedelia's eerie squeeze. "Pendulum" runs through a motorik glide, with metallic sounds shivering over a fizzle-driven keyboard riff. "Man Is Not A Bird" floats into the ether over meandering drum fills that sound like they're played on a kit as it crumples in on itself. Keenan is a consummate diva of detachment, but her voice sounds more expressive and direct this time out. Distant but far from stoic, she sounds less like a patched-in effect than a grounding agent set to reel in the band, which swirls and creaks all around her. She defies her moody lot on "Ominous Cloud," working its carnival-minded organ drift into a spell of church-ready uplift. Broadcast invokes the spacier reaches of Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, but Haha Sound is a retrofit well-tailored enough to wear a cloak of its own.