PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING – The War Room (Test Card)

I owe a debt of gratitude to Manic Street Preachers’ Sean Moore for turning me onto Public Service Broadcasting, after he tipped them as a band to watch out for in a recent NME article. ‘Propoganda pop with flashes of Krautrock and electronica’ pretty much sums them up, but when you actually hear them you find that their music is much, much more than that. Basically, they take old World War Two public information films and weave this anachronistic found sound into some great little instrumental pieces. The modern music and old-fashioned sounds really work well together, and it is not just a case of playing the music over the words – they make sure that they complement each other, and they end up sounding like they really belong together. ‘If War Should Come’ is a rhythmically driven electronic piece, while ‘London Can Take It’ has more guitar, and a smattering of banjo. ‘Spitfire’ has a distinct Krautrock feel, with its motorik backbeat, over which is played a commentator documenting the birth of the Spitfire, interspersed with dialogue from the classic war movie ‘The First Of The Few’. ‘Dig For Victory’ uses the keyboards to provide a heavy rhythmic backing over which swathes of synth build to create an excellent atmospheric piece, and the EP closes all too quickly with ‘Waltz For George’, a moving piece with just gentle piano and banjo overlaid onto a news item about war-torn soldiers from the British Expeditionary Force returning home after their tour of duty. I must say that I was hugely impressed with the care and attention that had gone into this EP, and have since searched out more of their work, eventually finding an earlier EP from 2010 – still ‘found sound’/instrumentals, but not war-related this time – and a couple of later singles, most notably ‘Everest’, with footage of the Everest expedition of the 1950’s providing a hook on which to hang their music. They might not be to everyone’s taste, and I guess it helps if you know a bit about the source material, but even if you don’t get the references, the music easily holds it’s own to make this a thoroughly enjoyable release. Looking forward to seeing them live when they visit Norwich in May, and a band has to be pretty special to drag me out of the house.
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