Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain (Test Card Recordings)
6 May 2013
The much anticipated debut album from Public Service Broadcasting is here. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates was ready to review it.
I’ll admit it, I was late catching on to Public Service Broadcasting, but by the time Louder Than War featured them in November of last year, I was hooked.
It’s pretty common knowledge now how PSB make their music and as such many initially viewed them as a bit of a novelty act, so is a full album of instrumentally accompanied public information films actually any good? Well, to put it simply, yes it is.
From the opening, title track, PSB’s intentions are clear, to do exactly what the title says – to ‘Inform’, ‘Educate’ and Entertain’. They’re all polished tracks which stand up by themselves but, with the addition of interesting sound ‘bytes’, the tracks are lifted to something incredibly wonderful. There are obvious comparisons to OMD’s 1983 release, ‘Genetic Engineering’ from the wonderful ‘Dazzle Ships’ album, but as sound quality has improved over the years, so has the end result on this album.
The guitar hooks on the superb ‘Spitfire’ (here, the lone track from last years ‘The War Room EP’) and album highlight ‘Signal 30’ are simply superb. Don’t be fooled by thinking PSB are purely an electronic band though, the later of these two tracks has real balls and sounds absolutely incredible cranked up loud.
The success of J. Willgoose Esq and Wrigglesworth is down to their ability to produce a great corduroy-dressed tune, whether it be ‘Theme from PSB’ with its banjolele, or ‘Lit Up’ with its Kraftwerk nods. They are endearing and often amusing but at the same time exciting and powerful. Royal Mail, American Road Safety, WW2, mountain exploration, it’s all here, present and very correct. ‘The Now Generation’ with its Prince/electro funk/rock is particularly good fun.
There’s a moment of calm in the sombre ‘Qomolangma’ which is barren of any words at all & album finale ‘Late Night Final’ is a haunting, moving close.
After succeeding so well with their first album, it’s maybe difficult to see where Public Service Broadcasting will go next for their ‘difficult second album’. More of the same or a change of direction? For the time being, let us wallow in a glorious album of stark originality and potential mass appeal. One of the finest debut’s for quite some time and one to which you really must take the time to enjoy.
Oh, and they have the same initials as me.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is Heaven Is A Place On Pendle. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.