Sample miners find a rich seam.
At their worst, Public Service Broadcasting sound very basic – nothing more than a bedroom hobbyist’s marrying of old film samples with Garageband loops. Questionable too is their choice of aesthetic: the band members call themselves Wrigglesworth and J. Willigoose Esq, wear corduroy, and use old-fashioned, upper-class received pronunciation samples raided from the British Film Institute, which hark back to a time when the British themselves were raiding the world.
Perhaps conscious of this image, they decamped to the Welsh valley town of Ebbw Vale to record Every Valley, which takes us underground to explore the decline of Welsh coal mining. It’s a story told effectively as the band move beyond the archive samples, and bring onboard a number of Celtic guest vocalists. The warm optimism of ‘People Will Always Need Coal’ is an early highlight with its soft dancehall touches, while the crashing riffs of ‘All Out’ capture the urgency of the anti-Thatcher strikes of the ’80s.
James Dean Bradfield’s vocals on ‘Turn No More’ are a standout on the second half, which is full of poignant moments reflecting on the demise of the mines. In a fitting and beautiful denouement, the album closes with an old miners’ choir singing, “Take me home, where my heart lies, let me sing again”.
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