“Broadcast”, Beach Volleyball’s extraordinary, elusive debut album has got the experimental edge and sheer beauty of My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”, but it reminds me a bit of Ride’s “Nowhere” – something about its metallic, rain-swept, ripped timbre, and the particular tenor of the songs’ poppy undercurrents. But really it’s nothing like Ride. Where “Nowhere” had a robustness, an exactitude and a jangliness that ultimately made it quite limited, this is a lot more far-reaching, subtle and profound.
It emerges slowly, hesitantly, like daylight after a very dark night, with grainy, expansive washes of dissonant and shifting sound engulfing a reticent heart. The guitars, bass and drums are knitted together to form a closely-shaded palette that is then used to create a series of richly-textured, layered tales of contact and interference, broken and static-laden transmissions from a failed, disused deep-space outpost. Most of the time even the drums, played minimally or softly or pushed back in the mix, dissolve into the ambient, breathtakingly swirling guitar noise, and the bass is the only instrument left hanging in there, barely holding everything together.
Two thirds of the way through, when the burst of Power Cuts arrives, it’s nothing short of stunning – as are follower First Floor’s machinic pulsations, which ebb and soar magnificently, heartbreakingly.
It’s hard to discern any of the lyrics. Towards the end I think the singer is trying to reassure someone, saying: “I’m not gone, I’m not leaving”. But he says it in such a blur, from such a crushing distance, and so forlornly, that he seems already far, far away.