Public Service Broadcasting - Every Valley
Returning with their follow up to 2015’s ambitious The Race For Space Public Service Broadcasting seem, on paper at least, to have narrowed their scope for their third album by turning their gaze away from the stars to somewhere closer to home by focussing on the decline of the Welsh mining industry. In execution, however, it casts it’s net so much wider by not only looking at the decline of industries across the western world but the direct impact and neglect that these communities face that continues to this day.
While the usual tropes and styles present in the duo’s first and second album are still here, it is their most musically consistent and cohesive record. Utilising samples from interviews and documentaries including Richard Burton’s deep gravelly voice informing us that “Every little boy’s ambition in my valley was to become a miner… They were the kings of the underworld” on album opener ‘Every Valley’, it also draws in an impressive roster of guest vocalists whose contributions all fit perfectly with the tone of the album. Highlights include the optimistic ‘Progress’ featuring Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, the guitar shredding rage filled of ‘All Out’ which deals with the miners strike, ‘Turn No More’ featuring Pontypool’s own James Dean Bradfield, ‘They Gave Me A Lamp’ which casts it’s eye on the formation of the women’s support groups and their political activism, and the beautiful and delicate ballad ‘You + Me’ featuring 9 Bach’s Lisa Jen Brown singing in Welsh and English.
Public Service Broadcasting have always been effective in giving their listeners a crystal clear snapshot of the past, but Every Valley manages to evoke a feeling that invests you in a full narrative from the first track. Charting the rise of the coal industry from the optimistic and, almost, arrogant beginnings that it would never falter (“..enough coal for another four hundred years”) through to the brutal shift and havoc of “Go To The Road” as more and more pits started to topple like dominoes, ending on the gorgeous melancholy of “Mother Of The Village” and the Beaufort Male Choir led album closer “Take Me Home” as those left behind try to pick up the pieces. It is also pertinent for Every Valley that the 21st of April this year was the first day that Britain has not utilised any coal since the Industrial Revolution.