A dichotomy in aesthetics tonight, but, hell, it works...
There’s something of a dichotomy in aesthetics tonight, but, hell, it works. Meticulous cool and raging discordance, timeless pop and fiery electronics, polo-necks and zipped-up clubwear, the book lovers and the beat boffins. Birmingham‘s Broadcast and Dublin‘s Decal – guess which act is signed to Warp Records? And then guess again.
Dublin‘s own Decal are back with a vengeance, reclaiming their perennial guise as the techno duo several steps ahead of their game. Fresh from a year-long hiatus, Alan and Denis crouch over a desk of wired-up effects pedals, a veritable jungle of customised gadgetry from which slow, grinding grooves and shimmering, synthesised chimes push and shove for aural dictation. It’s a beautiful friction.
Broadcast‘s ‘The Noise Made By People’ album is easily one of the revelations of 2000, an exercise in supreme subtlety. You could damn them for their perfectly sculpted avant-cool, but you can’t but succumb to the songs – the warm, simmering alchemy of future-retro pop. And if the album title itself is something of a reclamation of their own humanity from the burdening preconceptions of pretentiousness, the live show finishes the job off.
Even with the distraction of morphing National Geographic-style visuals above, all eyes are on Trish Keenan, statuesque and stylish, but close your eyes and her heavenly presence doesn’t fade. She may embody icy cool like no other femme fatale in pop, but her range is startling, her passion focused. Imagine the voice of Belinda Butcher reclaimed from the ether, or Nico without the pain, reborn in feelgood ’60s Chanson, with a surround-sound band of guitars and moogs and analogue hallucinations and waltzing rhythms and fall-in-love pop songs. ‘Unchanging Window’ is led by a drum march into a lush swamp of psychedelic reverie. But this isn’t just about John Barry spy-theme smokescreens. This is cinema with soul, as creepy as a double helping of ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’, as heart-poundingly fragile as a frenzied love letter.
Bar the occasional timid “thank you”, Trish says little else. It’s all in the songs, which speak volumes alone. When she sings ‘Come On, Let’s Go’, Trish doesn’t have to ask twice. We’re already there, enraptured in the groove, mesmerised by the vision, utterly sold to the sound. ‘Papercuts’ is all ravishing romance: “The writing for pleasure you wouldn’t let me read/The things you miss out when you try to mislead/You said you wrote a page about me/In your diary”. Note to self: renew library ticket immediately.
In another band’s hands, the Broadcast ‘idea’ would be stultifyingly mundane. As it happens, Broadcast are all flesh and blood. And bloody brilliant to boot.