Public Service Broadcasting elegantly engineer Every Valley

Public Service Broadcasting - Every ValleyThere are three ways in which you can judge Every Valley, the latest record from quaint art rock trio Public Service Broadcasting. Centred around the history of the rise and fall of the Welsh mining industry, it can be assessed against its concept and intended political message. More broadly, it can be measured by the atmosphere it creates, and the emotions evoked through its narrative and changing soundscape. Finally, it can be taken as a expertly crafted piece of music, and appraised by the quality of the arrangement and production.

Right from the off, the imagery of the Welsh countryside and its manmade scars is threaded through the tracks. "The sun rose first on the dead and the sleeping, on the grimy, frowning hills," the album opens with its suspenseful title number; "You + Me" featuring a duet with 9Bach's Lisa Jen Brown singing delicately in her native Welsh tongue; "Take Me Home" closing the album with an affecting recording of the Beaufort Male Choir singing a take on a miners classic.

This landscape is superimposed with a political one, tracking the transition from the glory days of the Welsh mining industry - a century ago the Cardiff Coal Exchange allegedly held more millionaires than the London Stock Exchange - to its crashing, signalled by the ominous news broadcast announcing the closure of the Ogilvie mine in the Rhymney Valley on "Go to the Road". The shockwaves reverberate through the rest of Every Valley, with themes of anger and despair ("All Out") and loneliness and emptiness ("Mother of the Village") reminding us of the devastating effects of political decisions on the lives of ordinary people.

The instrumentation, fizzing throughout with nervous energy, conveys the desperation and range of connected emotions beautifully. "The Pit", with its rolling drums and tension-building synth swells, simultaneously builds the atmosphere of the mines themselves and the impending fall of the industry. The bright, chiming arrangement of "They Gave Me a Lamp", focused on the involvement of women's support groups, captures feelings of acceptance and determined optimism, with an almost Arcade Fire-esque building passage, complete with brass. The songs are intricately arranged to create these moods. The interlaced electric guitars on "People Will Always Need Coal" are particularly magical, strongly reminiscent of Radiohead's The Hail to the Thief, while the mesmerising percussion and synth gives the song an irresistible groove.

It is perhaps tempting to challenge Every Valley as merely scratching the surface of what is a harrowing chapter in the lives of many people. Particularly without context, the album could come across as rather gimmicky - simple, perhaps even unadventurous, arrangements with poignant snippets of broadcast and various collaborations (Manic Street Preachers, Haiku Salut) to legitimise it. But rather it should be taken as an elegantly engineered piece of work, using a specific chapter of history as the vessel for a broader political message: actions have consequences, and sometimes they can be very far reaching indeed.

Release: 7th July 2017, Test Card Recordings


One Response to “Public Service Broadcasting elegantly engineer Every Valley”


    1. Public Service Broadcasting elegantly engineer Every Valley – Live List - 12/07/2017

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