There’s such a unique proposition at the heart of Public Service Broadcasting and their unique take on ambient indie. They work on topics like prog rockers making a concept album. Thus far the topics have not been so much concepts as genuine subjects.
Using the dialogue from existing documentaries and news reels they combine history lessons with indie rock. Like a less noise soaked Titus Andronicus they do for The Welsh National Coal Board what The Monitor did for The American Civil War here on their 2017 single People Will Always Need Coal. PWANC (as acronyms go that’s a honker) is taken from their album Every Valley. This track endeavors to assure the miners their jobs are safe. The warm BBC tones of the narrator tell of the pride you find in a hard days work, in the security to be found in the deep rich resources still to be mined and the growing demand that will lay ahead as society advances… Erm, right.
On their previous release they’ve made a masterful and optimistic album on the subject of the US and Russian space programs of the 1960’s (The Race For Space) and the bright hope it brings for humanity. On Every Valley and People Will Always Need Coal specifically there is the dirty truth, there is the clarity of hindsight and there is a strangers eye view of the words spoken over the smooth groove and soundtrack style melody.
I’ve only ever known the mining communities of the UK as elephants grave yards of a bye gone era. Broken towns where prosperity is recalled as a thing the grandparents once knew before Thatcher and microchips and the banks took all the hope away, leaving hard working honest men with no options, no hope and no pride.
This record plays like a lie cooked up to keep the masses calm. Although I expect the original recording was laid down in all good faith by a PR department who found the idea of the 70’s and 80’s gutting their towns and workplaces unfathomable.
The music is perfect for such a conflict of one truth verses an alternative reality. Public Service Broadcasting are indeed performing exactly what their name suggests. Not as propaganda but as living history lessons.