Last December, Public Service Broadcasting gave their first ever Hungarian concert when they opened for Editors. This time they’re coming back as a headlining act, which is great news because we can finally witness a longer set from them. Also since that gig, the London trio released their third longplayer Every Valley – an album which touches on the subject of Welsh coalmining. Not a very rock-and-roll topic, you might think, but PSB pulled off the task masterfully.
Interestingly enough, Public Service Broadcasting originally started out as a solo project for songwriter-guitarist J. Willgoose Esq. in 2009. The following year, he released PSB’s first output titled EP One, and soon afterwards he was joined by Wrigglesworth on drums and different electronic instruments. They played more and more gigs and appeared at several festivals, and by 2012 they had a new EP out: the Dr. Strangelove-inspired War Room. One year later they finally completed their debut album Inform-Educate-Entertain which contained lots of samples from the British Film Institute and the British Archives, and featured themes from the first expedition of Mount Everest, the invention of color television, road safety, fashion and the creation of the Spitfire plane, among others. What it didn’t include was vocal parts – Willgoose admitted that singing isn’t going to work for them. The album made the UK Top 25 and received favorable reviews.
A journalist of The Guardian deemed PSB more a concept than a band, and you may argue with that, but you could also admit he was right in a way. For the follow-up, the musicians used lots of archive samples and propaganda material again. If the debut concentrated on the 1930s, then sophomore effort The Race For Space catapulted the listener to the 60s: the time when the Americans and the Russians fought for space domination. This album also used a lot of samples including propaganda material and even a speech of John F. Kennedy. The material was more electronic due to its subject matter, the reviews were positive again, and the record barely missed the UK Top 10. The band played two launch gigs at the National Space Centre in Leicester and by this time they were augmented by third member J F Abraham on bass and all kinds of weird instruments, and the mysterious Mr. B who is responsible for the visual side of their shows.
PSB toured relentlessly and they played their biggest headlining gig to date at O2 Brixton Academy – they recorded the concert and released it in 2016. Also last year, Willgoose and co. started to work on their third album Every Valley. It proved to be another ambitious project: the “frontman” chose to cover the rise and fall of Welsh coalmining. For authenticity, the band traveled to Ebbw Vale in Wales and instead of a proper studio, they recorded tracks in an abandoned building formerly used by the town’s local workers. Although The Race For Space included just one song with vocals (featuring female duo Smoke Fairies), this album had a lot of guest singers: Tracyanne Campbell from Scottish band Camera Obscura, Lisa Jen Brown, folktronica trio Haiku Salut and James Dean Bradfield from Welsh band Manic Street Preachers. Every Valley has a more post-rock influenced sound and the efforts paid off really well, because this is their best received work to date: it made the UK Top 5. Which means that Public Service Broadcasting are one of the hottest and most currents offers in our calendar this year: we are looking forward to their show on the A38 on November 15 with great excitement.