Broadcast | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This quartet from Birmingham, England, emerged in 1996 with a series of singles that suggested a split personality. Compiled in '97 on Work and Non Work (Drag City), they alternate between themes for imaginary James Bond movies and more abstract pieces where an arsenal of synthesizers gurgles over loose rock grooves. (Not surprisingly, most of these sides were originally issued by Duophonic, the label owned by kindred spirits Stereolab.) But on the band's long-awaited debut album, The Noise Made by People (Warp/Tommy Boy), the distance between the two approaches has grown shorter. While I'm still most immediately drawn to immaculate pop gems like "Unchanging Window" and "Come On Let's Go," where Trish Keenan's clear, sweet voice articulates the hooks with graceful precision and the percolating grooves are layered with guitar arpeggios and vaguely psychedelic keyboards, the less direct material is hardly filler. Keyboardist Roj Stevens often takes center stage; he crafts a stately series of otherworldly riffs for Keenan to glide over on "Echo's Answer" and the synth and psych organ he plays over the robotic groove of "You Can Fall" is suitably hypnotic. With Stereolab getting more abstruse on every record, Broadcast's moments of pop perfection will soon be in a class by themselves. Pan-American and Designer open. Thursday, November 9, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Simon Rackham.

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