Combining music, spoken word, and visuals, London-based trio Public Service Broadcasting play upbeat post-rock which sources the majority of its vocals from public service announcements, documentaries, and other archival material. With a mission to "teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future," the group's music is heavily based on historical themes. 2015's The Race for Space focuses on outer space explorations from the '50s to the '70s, while 2017's Every Valley is about the rise and decline of the Welsh coal mining industry. For a group with such an unconventional format, sound, and subject matter, Public Service Broadcasting have proven to be remarkably popular. All three of their studio albums have ranked high on the U.K. album charts, with Every Valley peaking at number four.
Public Service Broadcasting formed in 2010 when a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter known as J. Willgoose, Esq. recruited the equally regally named drummer Wrigglesworth following a string of eclectic but ultimately unfruitful musical outings beginning in the late '90s. Inspired by listening to archival material from BBC Radio 4, Willgoose began to delve deeper, searching for both audio clips and film footage from the 20th century that he could complement with indie/electronic music and vice-versa. Public Service Broadcasting's first release, EP One, appeared in August 2010 and was the perfect introduction to the pair's concept and featured "New Dimensions in Sound," which sampled an infomercial for a record player alongside vibrant indie rock that built into a crescendo of distorted guitar. PSB began to make a name for themselves on the live circuit with an unmistakable set that featured an old walnut-veneered '60s television that they lovingly described as the band's "frontman." A year after EP One, the duo released the single "Roygbiv" and then The War Room, another EP, this time focusing on World War II and, in particular, The Blitz. Sampling propaganda films, sirens, and a film about the invention of the Spitfire on a track of the same name, the EP created further buzz and radio play for Public Service Broadcasting as they prepared their debut album, Inform - Educate - Entertain, which was released in May 2013 on their own label, Test Card. By this point, the combination of the guitar, banjo, and electronics of Willgoose, Esq. and the intricate drumming from the jazz-trained Wrigglesworth sounded like a well-rounded, well-oiled machine. One of the album's highlights, "Everest," was based around The Conquest of Everest, a 1953 film documenting Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's first successful ascent of the mountain, including the fitting line "two very small men/cutting steps in the roof of the world." Public Service Broadcasting went on to tour the album and play a host of festivals in the summer of 2013, and secured a support slot with the Rolling Stones in London's Hyde Park. In 2015, the duo issued their sophomore studio LP, The Race for Space, an ambitious, sample-heavy conceptual piece concerning the American and Soviet space race from 1957-1972. The record was met with widespread acclaim, and the band followed up in 2016 with a companion remix album, [RoviLink="MW"]The Race for Space [Remixes][/RoviLink]. 2016 also saw the release of the duo's first live record. Live at Brixton celebrated and preserved their sold-out homecoming show at the London venue that took place in 2015, with the band joined by a 13-piece choir, a five-piece string section, and an expanded brass section. Expanded to a trio with the addition of JF Abraham, PSB returned in 2017 with their third studio effort, Every Valley. The record was conceptually focused on the "story of industrial decline," particularly within the Welsh coal mining industry. White Star Liner, a four-song EP themed around the Titanic, followed in 2018. ~ Daniel Clancy