Broadcast
Tender Buttons


4.5
superb

Review

by Thomas S. USER (29 Reviews)
March 1st, 2019 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: a bedtime story read in the twilight of sleep

It’s a curious thing, listening to an artist after their passing. Death casts a portentous shadow over old, forgotten albums, imbuing them with a lurid gravitas, a blooming significance; they become inextricable pieces of a broader legacy left behind by their creators. Of Broadcast’s all too brief discography, Tender Buttons is the worthiest tribute to the memory of Trish Keenan. A world away from the sprawling, starry-eyed psychedelia of earlier material, Tender Buttons is austere, sparse, and muscular—a disciplined exercise in electronic pop minimalism. Alongside her husband and long-time bandmate, James Cargill, Keenan shaped an album brimming with dichotomies: it is complex in its simplicity, alienating in its intimacy, and, oftentimes, very beautiful in its dissonance.

Tender Buttons strips away the bloated instrumentation of its middling predecessors and pulls Keenan’s performance sharply into focus. Free of competition, her spectral voice sounds outright other-worldly: a siren’s song, clear and bell-like, ringing out across a sea of bit-crushed synths and desiccated drum machines. When paired with the philosophical absurdism found in her lyrics, Keenan’s somnolent performances make for a strangely dissociative listening experience. The banal minutiae of day to day life, chronicled with the detachment of an anthropological field report, are made to feel off-kilter, surreal. In ‘Corporeal’, a spluttering electro-pop curio, a doctor’s x-ray machine reduces his patient to a mere vertebrate; and the partying detailed in ‘Michael A Grammar’—‘my feet are dancing so much, and I hate that,’ Keenan sighs—feels not just perfunctory, but coercive. Over the gnarled synth lines and groaning oscillations of ‘The Black Cat’, Keenan wryly outlines her oblique worldview better than anyone—‘curious-er and curious-er’.

Fleeting moments of quiescence can be found nestled among the digital howls and shrieks of Tender Buttons. ‘Tears in the Typing Pool’, a sweetly strummed English folk song, remains sparse and unadorned, as if plucked straight from Keenan’s demo collection. The eponymous track, ‘Tender Buttons’, is a whirring, tremulous mess of acoustic guitars and sawtooth synths, but Keenan’s word associations, whispered plangently over the buzzing chaos, are calming, soporific—like a bedtime story read in the twilight of sleep. The spiritual closer of Tender Buttons, ‘You and Me in Time’, is the stillest moment on the album: a brief, gentle lullaby shaped by shimmering keyboard chords and cascading vibraphone melodies. The song is a tender rumination on the temporality of life, a gentle reminder of the indefatigable flow of time; but, more significantly, an elegant metaphor for Tender Buttons itself—you and me, artist and listener, in time.



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user ratings (154)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
tombits
March 1st 2019


3576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this was tough to write - i absolutely adore this album, hope i did it justice.



Corporeal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr2473XpG98

Ryus
March 1st 2019


27977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

corpoooooreeeeeaaaal

Digging: Lil B - Evil Red Flame

SandwichBubble
March 1st 2019


13311 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely did the album justice, great review.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2019


19459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

curiouser and





curiouser and

tombits
March 1st 2019


3576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

die cut die cut die cut

sixdegrees
March 1st 2019


12561 Comments


based

brandontaylor
March 13th 2019


1190 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

got into the album recently and its definitely a one of a kind experience for me... this review does it justice as well.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2019


19459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

feels like a Tender Buttons / Third kind of day for me

kevbogz
October 20th 2019


4690 Comments


neat

mindleviticus
November 12th 2019


10333 Comments


how did I not know about these guys before?

ReefaJones
March 1st 2020


2576 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

tears in the typing pool is so good



Digging: Soda Stereo - Dynamo

ReefaJones
March 21st 2020


2576 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I Found The F is so fucking good. This is a 5 honestly.

tombits
March 22nd 2020


3576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

love the ringo-esque fills on that one, pretty sure it's the only track with organic drums

tombits
March 22nd 2020


3576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the first six tracks are all basically perfect songs

ReefaJones
August 26th 2020


2576 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Agreed. Perfection.

Ryus
November 21st 2021


27977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

first half is so good yeah

VespertineMusic
March 3rd 2022


4 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

A gem of an album

ArsMoriendi
May 26th 2022


37217 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

3 tracks in and

Digging: 4 Bonjour's Parties - Pigments Drift Down to the Brook

ArsMoriendi
May 26th 2022


37217 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finished and it’s kinda top heavy but still good



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