<p>Broadcast&#39;s second-ever single —initially issued in 1996 on Stereolab&#39;s Super Duophonic 45s imprint— was the one that singled them out as a budding band fully capable of greatness. And, with its insistent organ riff, rattling drums, and Mellotron strings, it managed to summon the &#39;60s —and the futurist experiments of oddballs like the United States of America— without sounding like second-hand nostalgia. I remember seeing Broadcast <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v&#61;ikrQzl3zJLs" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">perform it on MTV UK&#39;s Alternative Nation</a> (in a fleeting mid-&#39;90s-era when the Toby Amies-hosted show was a true repository of audio discovery), and being instantly enraptured by this unknown band. Gladly, it was the start of a long affair...</p>The final song on <i>Work and Non Work</i> —the 1997 compilation of early singles that was Broadcast&#39;s first full-length release— is about departures; Keenan&#39;s central tale of a traveling brother, and the public farewells at the airport, being a symbol to study what &#39;leaving&#39; actually entails. For all its cute sibling references (&#34;my brother&#39;s back off holiday/he&#39;s been chasing girls in Spain&#34;), the song is about the feeling of absence when someone departs; when a brother steps on a plane, or a lover leaves a bedroom in the morning. The song&#39;s refrain, &#34;turn the lights out when you&#39;re leaving,&#34; becomes not some friendly farewell, but an acceptance of imminent darkness.<p>The first single from the masterful The Noise Made by People arrived in the dying months of 1999, sounding like a missive from the uncertain future around the corner. Arriving a year before <em>Kid A</em> laid claim on re-wired musical terrain, &#34;Echo&#39;s Answer&#34; felt like a sonar shot fired out into the void. The song was stark, strange, eerie, elusive, and staggering beautiful: a handful of organ chords, a sinuous pitch-shifting string part, and ripples of digital manipulation ricocheting across a resounding void of silence. Keenan&#39;s carefully-enunciated lyrics take place on a mountain-top; the singer listening to the wind gust and die, the echoes of a valley a drone whirring eternal.</p><p>&#34;There&#39;s a place I have never explored,&#34; Keenan sings, with a voice equal parts sweet and sinister, &#34;another world we have yet to conquer.&#34; These open-to-interpretation words took on a shivering resonance after the singer&#39;s tragic death; the tune&#39;s bizarre soundscape —riff built on semi-discordant string samples of no specific origin, perhaps even played on a Mellotron— now teetering eerily on the brink between life and death. Beyond its haunted opening, &#34;Until Then&#34; builds into one of Broadcast&#39;s more dramatic-sounding songs, swelling with noisy volume until suddenly cutting off at a crescendo, and plunging into strange void on close. Years later, it was beautifully, faithfully covered by Orcas in tribute to Keenan.</p>One of Broadcast&#39;s warmest, most accessible, best-known tunes —a groovy number that summons the mythological swingin&#39; &#39;60s in warm organs, big drums, and Spector reverb— features some of Keenan&#39;s sharpest, most pointed lyrics. Not least of which is its repeated, rhetorical refrain &#34;what&#39;s the point in wasting time/on people that you&#39;ll never know?&#34;; a piece of prime life advice delivered in pop-song form. As it literally seems to be about ditching a high-falutin&#39;-yet-ultimately-empty party, the sentiment is clear valentine from one to another, delivered with equal parts reproach, support, and utter devotion. &#34;When everybody&#39;s disappeared/you won&#39;t be alone,&#34; Keenan sings, and it&#39;s hard not to imagine that Cargill, her partner in both life and band, is the intended recipient.Initially released on the <i>Extended Play Two</i> EP, then collated on the compilation <i>The Future Crayon</i>, this elegant seven-minute epic is a reminder of how rich the <i>Noise Made by People</i> era was. Where a lesser band would build an entire album around something this expansive, exploratory, and evolutionary, Broadcast struggled to find a proper home for it. Where the band&#39;s better works often found them at their most collagey or studio-centric, &#34;Unchanging Window/Chord Simple&#34; sounds very much like a band jamming; in the best possible sense. Keenan&#39;s lyrics detail, over buzzy modular synths and jazzy percussion, the attempt to capture ephemeral sadness for artistic inspiration; and, from there, the song stretches out long and lingering, as if attempting to inhabit the feeling.In text, it doesn&#39;t come out as much: 77 seconds in which five words are repeated endlessly, over a simple piano-and-drum-loop motif. But to say that &#34;Oh How I Miss You&#34; is more than the sum of its parts is flagrant understatement, as no moment in the band&#39;s busy discography may initially seem so minor, yet prove so major. If I&#39;m in a fightin&#39; mood, I may even argue this is Broadcast&#39;s greatest song: hearing Keenan, in a doleful drone, carol &#34;Oh, how I miss you&#34; endlessly —multi-tracked vocals growing thicker, fuzzier, more layered, more profound with each lap around the lyric— is akin to submitting to an incantation; a spell laced with the most potent musical magic.Like &#34;Oh How I Miss You,&#34; this is another study in glorious, beauteous simplicity. The standout song from 2005&#39;s <i>Tender Buttons</i>, sets Keenan&#39;s soft, double-tracked, effects-fuzzed singing to a spartan arrangement of bashful acoustic guitar, gurgling Wurlitzer, and tinges of transient noise. There&#39;s an elegance to it, a timelessness and classicism that makes it stand apart from Broadcast&#39;s usual brand of retrofuturism. The song hangs heavy with two weighty metaphors —a long-distance runner reaching the end of the race; a typist writing a letter interpreting their surrounds— that describe Keenan watching her father die from a terminal illness; she writing words —coming up with a song— in commemoration of &#34;the end of you and me.&#34;<p>&#34;Elegant Elephant&#34; is, truly, about an elephant; a mantelpiece trinket recounted in language of stunning simplicity —&#34;sentimental ornament/enamel animal... elegant elephant/emotional element&#34;— and filled with symbolic profundity. It&#39;s a Proustian madeline in pachyderm form, unfolding into the &#34;pretend worlds&#34; and &#34;make-believe&#34; and the &#34;magic that exists in the past, but not your past&#34; and &#34;the past as a place to draw from,&#34; all things that Keenan spoke about with me, thoughtfully, mere months before her death. Late-period Broadcast was about disappearing into dreamlike soundworlds, and &#34;Elegant Elephant&#34; did so with reverent tenderness.</p>If &#34;Elegant Elephant&#34; took on the warmer, more sentimental side of memories, childhoods, and the artifacts of experience, &#34;The Be Colony&#34; journeyed into the more mystical, sinister reaches of fanciful imaginary realms; the shadowy side of the subconscious. &#34;You are going backwards to a child to the death of rebirth,&#34; Keenan carols, in a song whose lyrics sway like a swinging watch. &#34;All circles vanish, vanish, vanish,&#34; Keenan intones, and it feels like counting backwards into hypnosis. &#34;The Be Colony&#34; was the most Broadcast-y song on their collaborative, collagist LP <i>Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age</i>, ann album heavily under the influence of the primitive mid-century experiments of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.