Tag Archives: Inform – Educate – Entertain

Blogathon: Inform – Educate – Excite Us With Tidbits About New Material: Public Service Broadcasting Interview

31 Jan

PSB Interview

If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been for the last hour or so of the Blogathon, don’t worry, we haven’t sacked it off in favour of falling asleep on the sofa with Bargain Hunt on in the background. We’ve actually been chatting away with one of our favourite people and all round good egg, Mr. J. Willgoose, Esq or the wonderful Public Service Broadcasting

Unusually for PSB, Mr. J. was not out and about touring the country or beyond so he vey kindly offered to give up some of his writing time to chat to us about the year he has just had and what he has planned for the future, all in support of Blogathon.

Told you he was a good egg. Here’s the chat we just had.

Alphabet Bands: Mr J. How are you Sir?

J. Willgoose, Esq: Very well thanks

Jolly good, and where in the world are you at the moment?

I am in my kitchen, which is something of a novelty

I expect it is given the amount of touring you did last year. How does it feel to be home?

Very nice, thanks! We’re gearing up for our month in America but it’s been nice to spend a bit of time at home for a change

You’ve been to the States before yes? How was it? Suitably exciting that you are heading back I see.

Yes, we went over for CMJ in October. We played 3 shows, one of which wasn’t much fun, one of which was chaotic but fun, and one of which was good fun and seen by some good people.. so it was a good mix.

So pretty much the Goldilocks experience then? Are you over for SXSW this time or is this a full on PSB tour?

Well, I should say it’s all dependent on getting visas, which with a shady character like Wriggles on board is not going to be plain sailing. I’m not even sure his family know his first name. But yes we’re doing a west coast run, Chicago, Toronto, then east coast and then down to Texas via Georgia.
I am fully expecting SXSW to be full of lots of big time charlies, but hopefully there’ll be some nice people there. I think there’s an attitude amongst certain bands that if you’re playing there, you’re kind of a big deal, which is an attitude we run a million miles from. But it should still be an interesting one

Yes, you do a very nice line is self-depreciation which has been evident in live shows before. I saw that your stage set-up expanded towards the end of last year. Are you tempted to go even bigger for America? They don’t do ‘small’ over there really.

Tempted, yes, but we’re starting from square one over there so on a practical level there just wouldn’t be room for it. And on an even more practical level, we can’t afford to ship it all out there! It’s going to be a bit of a step back in time for us though to early last year when we were on the Signal 30 tour, pre-album, and being provided with fitted (elasticated) bedsheets to use as projector screens. Although I do expect American venues to be run a lot better than some of the ones over here!

Given the number of shows you did last year, you must have seen practically every small to medium sized venue in the UK! Aside from Norwich (of course) were there any particular standouts?

Ha – it’s quite hard to remember them all to be honest! My other half is always telling me I should keep a diary, which I always agree with and then always fail to. Off the very top of my head though we loved the crowds and the venue down in Exeter, the Phoenix… and the Railway in Winchester was a good old-fashioned sweatbox to start the year off.

Oh and the show we did at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal was good fun – a nice local crew there, and it’s where we met our soundman Rob (better known as Bobby Goldenears), so it’s full of fond memories for us all

How about the show with New Order? Was it a surprise to be asked to play with them?

If you’re talking overall highlights.. well, the above, plus our show at The Forum, plus supporting New Order & the Manics… plus Glastonbury… they were all pretty special. And yes, it’s always a surprise being asked to play with a band you have that much respect for. It’s pretty much the best feeling I think you can have, in any profession – peer validation, in a way. If people who you respect for what they do seem to feel the same way about you then it is immensely satisfying. Plus more than a little odd!

Speaking of odd… How did the BBC F1 link come about? It looked amazing and I must confess, I was very pleased and proud to see you guys doing it. How did you feel when you were asked and then when you saw it back?

Ha, thanks.. It just came up as quite a late possibility towards the start of our November tour. I think the guys behind the video had thought about booking deadmaus, but that wasn’t happening, so we were naturally second in the queue! I have to be honest, as nice as everyone on the shoot was and as amazing exposure as it was, it is incredibly boring playing the same minute and a half of a song for 7 hours or so, so by the time we’d finished filming I was ready never to hear it again. Then we were driving back from our show in the Netherlands that Sunday and started to see Twitter going bonkers, and that’s when it kind of hit us. I think it’s very easy to get used to a certain level of exposure and start taking it for granted, or just to get wrapped up in the detail (as per the filming) and forget how ridiculous, and great, the last year has been, on many levels.

Oh and I can’t comment on that F1 video without thanking the guys at Intro and the beeb who actually edited the song – it wasn’t our work to put the samples on it, they did all the hard stuff and we just moaned about standing around in corduroy all day!

Wriggles doesn’t do stairs any more, too – he’s gone a bit Mariah on us

Hahaha. When he starts asking for all the brown M&M’s to be taken out, you know it’s time to get Wriggles III in…

Ha. Yeah, we’re keeping tabs on the situation..

I’m glad you mentioned the Netherlands (as well as your stellar 2013) as you took us all by surprise with the release of the two Elfstedentocht tunes. How much fun was that to do?

It was nice, actually – great to do something on a bit of a tangent. I think most people appreciated that we were keen to explore other areas and broaden the net a bit, which was good. I was slightly worried that people would think we’d gone totally bonkers. It didn’t stop several people missing the point entirely (the Guardian’s review of our Forum show being a prime example) but it was just good to get some new material into the live set.

Hmmm, the Guardian has a habit of missing the point when it comes to you, in my opinion, but they are quite nice with it I suppose…

Yeah, they’ve said some nice things, but quite a few different people write for them so you’re bound to get a bit of a mixed bag of opinions there

Very true. I can only blame myself sadly… Ok, new material.
I know I cannot ask what it is but how is it going? Are you working on a new album?

Ha. I have trained you well sir! And I am going to answer the second question first, and with a question of my own. If I said it was likely to be c.30 minutes long and 7-8 tracks, what would you say that was?
An EP? An album? A mini-album?

EP I would say. Though others may disagree.

I’d say mini-album. It’s not going to fit on a 10″, which instantly means it’s not an EP in my eyes
Although The War Room was a 12″.. so it’s hard to say

Yeah, I could be persuaded actually. 8 tracks too. Bit long for an EP

Maybe 7
Possibly 9
Actually no
It’s 7 or 8

So, some tracks then…

Yes. That much we know.
And I have demo’d about 4 of them now to a reasonable level, and started on the 5th today. It is a tough process as you’re continually battling against self-doubt, procrastination, self-loathing and other melodramatic emotions.. but I think I’m doing alright so far.

Aside from the inner demons, how has the process been? Have you found it easier to get samples? The BBC reduced their rate after the F1 appearance?

I’ve actually been working on this already for over a year – I think the first email I sent was just as I was finishing the album last January, and the BFI have again come up with the goods on a quite spectacular scale. I’ve also got some other sources on the go, so I’ve definitely got enough material, and it covers what I hoped it would. Now the challenge is to meld the material to the ideas I’ve been carrying in my head for the past year or so and tie the whole thing together so that it makes sense. I would say that the most likely first single is a bit of a departure. I played it to the Mrs the other day and she didn’t like it as she said it was too cheesy. She’s been wrong before though!

Hahahahaha. You’re not going all Euro Pop Guetta on us are you Sir? Pitbull on guest vocals?

Definitely not. It’s just quite.. er.. different, in terms of instrumentation. I think. I mean it might end up getting binned anyway, so I shouldn’t say too much. I think it’s good though.

What I will say is that it’s very incongruous.. deliberately so. It doesn’t match the subject matter in the way that you’d think it would. But that is the point, for me. I think we need to be brave in the way we develop things from here.

Sounds intriguing and quite exciting. Bravery is a good thing in music and should be applauded. Will there be other surprises? Any more foreign language tracks like Elfstedentocht?

There will be foreign language on some of it, but it’ll be interspersed with translations and other English commentary, I think. Unless I find something really good between now and later in the year!

Oooh, so multiple languages on one song then? Is that what you mean?

If by multiple you mean two, then yes!

Hahaha. I think that counts, maths was never my strong point…
So, any news on release times? Or is it far too early to be talking about that?

It’s not if you ask my management! We’re already well into 2015 in their eyes. I try to be a bit more realistic… but I hope there will at least be a single before the end of the year, if not the full thing proper.

Ahhh, so after a storming and prolific 2013, this year could be relatively quiet. Just a thousand gigs…

Ha, yes. We’ve still got a very full calendar – I’ve had to fight to reclaim some of it for writing too. Most of the focus for the first half of the year is on the US & Europe, with festivals and a small UK tour for later in the year.

Yes, I imagine writing on tour must be extremely difficult. Will we see you in Norwich before the year is out perhaps?

I’m not sure, sir. I can’t say for definite. When I say a small tour, I mean 5 or 6 dates, so the odds aren’t great. We’ll see though. I’ll always be up for a gig in Norwich personally, if it makes sense with the rest of our schedule.

Ahh right, that is small – especially by your standards. Ok, I don’t want to keep you from valuable writing time. Before we go, one last question on behalf of my Brother in Blogathon arms Breaking More Waves…

Do you ever get mistaken for the ‘other’ PSB, the Pet Shop Boys?

Ha! Not in person, no. On Twitter it’s more of an issue because our name is too long for Twitter, so we had to abbreviate it to PSB_HQ. But I don’t think anyone’s ever come to one of our gigs expecting to see the Pet Shop Boys. I hope not, anyway – on production values alone they’d be sorely disappointed!

The lack of silly hats… and Wriggles looks like he’s having far too much fun to pull off Moody & Aloof. I’m sure they’d still have a great time though.

I’ve never seen them myself, actually – I’d love to. Some classics in there!

Absolutely, I think it would be fantastic show. Well, you’ve played with New Order, perhaps they could be next. Tell your management to get on it, The PSB Squared Tour.

Ha. Consider that done, sir. Consider it done.

Can’t wait. Mr. J. Willgoose, Esq, thank you for your time today, I look forward to hearing the new material later this year, maybe next.

Thanks sir! Fingers crossed eh. Good luck with the blogathon too, a noble cause.


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2013 Albums of the Year: The Full List, and a little extra…

21 Dec

2013 Albums of the Year The Full List

Just as we did with our other lists this month, EPs of the Year and Tracks of the Year, we have decided to put all ten of our favourite albums of 2013 into one easy to read list. And, as with our 2014 Preview series, we have also added some honourable mentions of albums that we loved but didn’t quite make it into our final ten.

Every year when we sit down to work out our albums of the year, we always end up surprising ourselves in some way or other. This year was no different and one thing that caught our attention, though probably means very little, was the geographical make up of the list, with seven of the ten albums coming from the USA and only three from the UK, and how many (eight) were debut albums. Evidently we like new things from overseas very much.

Anyway, here you go, all in one place, our favourite albums of the year. Just click on the album title to be taken to the original post and to read more about each one.

Enjoy and see you next week for some regular blog posts and festive fun as well.


#10: Superhumanoids – Exhibitionists

”All throughout Exhibitionists, melodies swoop and swoon, flying to the sun and melting into considered and analytical lyrics. Light and dark meet, mix and leave hand-in-hand, carried off on the marbled tide of heady and vibrant synth-pop and more downtempo and icy soundscapes. The Los Angeles based band has created sounds that dance, sway and float in equal measure and the result is an absolute delight.”

#9: Valerie June – Pushin’ Against A Stone

”Her vocals, so distinctive and unlike almost anything else you’ve ever heard, slip seamlessly from style to style. Warmth and frost, steel like determination and vulnerable insecurity, world weary wisdom and wide-eyed naivety; all feature and all feel entirely natural. She has paid her dues, taken her licks and learnt her lessons. This education, her talent and the fact that she probably bleeds music and Memphis has all come together in a glorious whole and the result is a fantastically varied and captivating album.”

#8: Caveman – Caveman

”Like a sprawling desert, Caveman is broad and spread out as far as the eye can see. Blissfully dreamy guitars wash away the world on lullabies of shimmering heat haze reverb, while the vocals of Matthew Iwanusa float wistfully through your mind and off to the distant horizon.”

#7: Rhye – Woman

”The songs are rich and smooth like a vintage red wine in the company of good friends. Robin Hannibal’s arrangements are deft, delicate and subtle, awash with a languid sophistication, offering glimpses into the intimacy of love, be it full and joyous or pained, private and profound.”

#6: London Grammar – If You Wait

”It is a groundswell of emotion, rising up to the sky and stirring the soul, sending shivers down spines and ripples of Goosebumps across arms. Particularly during moments of quiet, haunting breaths, like those that give way to a compelling, crashing rhythm on “Stay Awake”, or the simple piano intro to “Sights”.”

#5: Day Joy – Go To Sleep, Mess

” Songs trickle gently along, rippling before they unexpectedly swell and rise; lifting you high and carrying you away on a beautiful tide of delicate emotion. Their spectral melodies create a sense of blurriness, like the world seen through rain speckled glasses. Your mind is distorted and made fuzzy by the echoing, swirling sounds and vocals as they shimmer and float on the breeze.”

#4: Young Hunting – Hazel

”There is no urgency to Hazel, it is staid, serene like a lake with not a ripple on its surface but amongst the gorgeous and woozy instrumentals, there is darkness. It is dream-pop but laced with foreboding, a feeling that something is about to upset this idyllic scenario. This sense of unease is perhaps best represented by “Baby’s First Steps”, a track that sounds like a late drive along a 1950’s mountain road, loved one in the passenger seat after a pleasant evening with friends. The night is clear and the road is empty, but the audience knows all is not right.”

#3: Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

”It is far too easy to get lost in the perceived gimmick of Public Service Broadcasting and to our mind that misses the point. The samples are critical of course, but the beauty and enjoyment comes from how they are used and woven into complimentary sounds to convey a narrative, emotion, excitement and energy.”

#2: Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

” Chvrches are exciting. Martin Doherty and Iain Cook wield sonic weapons like a pair of skittish electro-ninjas; flipping, kicking and letting loose shurikens of rapid beats and synth lines with deadly precision while Lauren Mayberry’s sweet emotive vocals rise up above them as if summoned by some mystical enchantress.”

#1: John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

”Here Grant plays with genres more than before as well. Stark electronic melodies and rough synths are juxtaposed with soft, mellifluous harmonies with the guesting (and understated wonderfulness of) Sinead O’Connor and his floating, winsome vocals. But this variety of styles embraced within the album could be seen as representation of the tumultuous variety of emotions and mood swings one undergoes when experiencing and coming to terms with heartbreak. For this is undeniably a break-up album. An album of a man who has been knifed in the heart by a shattered relationship and is coming to terms with the anger, depression, desire and love that remains in his soul.”


Honourable Mentions…

Vuvuvultures – Push / Pull

VVV-Strikethrough

There is a sense of foreboding, of death and of something much bigger than us, of something beyond our comprehension that is prevalent throughout. Be it the portentous, doom laden drum beats and bass sounds that awake “The Professional” or the foot-stomping bluesy sleaze of “Your Thoughts Are A Plague”, cataclysmic events are only moments away. Vuvuvultures have brought the end of this world with them and its noise is addictive.

Guitars shudder and grind, basslines throb and groove, drumbeats pound and scatter and above it all, vocals soar and caress. And within, sometimes buried, sometimes bursting forth beyond these instruments are the electronics, the ghosts in the machine that are desperate to break out. Little glitchy moments here, synthy wails there, digital flourishes that embellish and enhance. On “Tell No One” especially, the machines are coming and the electronics give it an extra feeling of danger, of despair and of impending menace.

Peppered within the album too are fleeting moments where they have taken over entirely, the A.I finding a way to circumvent its masters and the machines talk to one another. They appear at the end of the “Whatever You Will” and the slower undulations of the snake like “Empurrar/Puxar” (Push/Pull in Portuguese) which close the album give way to a minute or so of digital whirring and twitching, calling out to its brothers and signalling perhaps the next stage of Vuvuvultures evolution.

“Push/Pull” is on Energy Snake Records / Cadiz and can be ordered here.



Ms Mr – Secondhand Rapture

MS MR Secondhand Rapture

MS MR resides in a world of the macabre, a world of glitchy electronics, incessant rhythms, swirling strings and deliciously gloomy vocal harmonies. ”We really get off and thrive on a certain level of uneasiness and suspense” Lizzy told us, and that is apparent throughout Secondhand Rapture. Be it the upbeat, clap-happy fun of “Salty Sweet” or the slower melancholy of “Twenty Seven” and “This Isn’t Control”, there is always a sense of disquiet and drama within. It’s just how pop should be, full of big, majestic melodies and hooks big enough to catch a whale. The brilliantly brooding “BTSK” even contains a synth line that is oddly reminiscent of some unnecessarily successful 90s euro-dance, it sounds amazing.

There are so many highlights within; it is almost like a greatest hit compilation. Picking the next single is more taxing than trying a Rubik’s cube while drunk but our money would be on “No Trace”. It’s a beautiful and brutally theatrical piece of noir-pop, full of attitude and sass as well as trademark MS MR rhythms and striking film score-esque strings that urgently harry and batter the listener into sublime submission.

MS MR have been hitting home runs since they came out swinging last year and after the success and acclaim of their previous singles, videos and EP, with Secondhand Rapture they may well have just hit a grand slam.

Secondhand Rapture is available digitally from iTunes.



Little Tybee – For Distant Viewing

Little Tybee

After opening with some delightful, occasional tropical sounding, jazzy folk sounds, we are treated to four minutes of swooshing instrumentalism, laced with gentle prog-rock sensibilities on “Fantastic Planet”. “Herman” drips with aquatic, almost sonar style elements that complement the rich string orchestration before, seemingly out of no-where, dropping in a surprising moment of grinding reverb. It is as unexpected as it is perfect, but it remains the only fleeting moment of rough with the otherwise very smooth.

For Distant Viewing inculcates a care free attitude in its listener. Soothing, heavenly strings entwine with Brock Scott’s rich and slightly sweet vocals as they lick flame like around the rat-a-tat of percussion and the light twang of guitar. It feels fresh at every listen, as if it has just been conceived, improvised, jammed. It is an album that will make you smile, make you sway and hell, maybe even kick off your shoes and have a little shuffle.

Named after an island off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the music of Little Tybee has a sun kissed feel, not bleached out and surf swept, but bright and breezy. Part Vampire Weekend, part Simon and Garfunkel, perhaps even part Juan Zelada (for they have his charm in their song writing), it is like a glorious summer’s day, it is to be revelled in.

’For Distant Viewing’ is out on Paper Garden Records and can be ordered here.



Cherokee Red – Cherokee Red

Cheroke Red

When you start swaying softly as soon as you start listening to an album, you know you are in for a treat, and so it is with the eponymous debut album of Pennsylvania’s Cherokee Red. It begins with the mellifluous gorgeousness of “Veya Con Dios” and closes with the so-soft-and-delicate-it-could-actually-be-a-lullaby “Blissful Blows”. In between are 9 more tracks of wistful and swoonsome beauty.

“Veya Con Dios” for example, is so pretty you could stick a crown on it and it would win pageants. It’s so beautiful you could frame it and hang it in the Louvre; it’s so … you get the idea, it’s gorgeous. The guitar strums softly as the melody floats like the proverbial wave lapping against the shore; there’s not a cloud in the sky as the sun glistens above you on this deserted beach. It is pure calm and relaxation, Christiana Bartolini’s vocals, from the opening ‘do do, do-do-do-do-do-do-do’, massages away your cares and worries. It’s dreamy, but not in a dreampop way, more a teenage girl describing the High School hunk kind of way.

Bartolini’s vocals are a spoonful of sugar that could make the worst news in the world seem utterly delightful and the arrangements are elegant and divine. Even “Heavy Soul”, with its momentary seconds of comparative angularity and wobbliness, is a tender piece of melody that culminates in the sounds of crickets chirping, preparing the quiet night time for the aforementioned lullaby of “Blissful Blows” which follows.

It caresses the brain and brings about a state of tranquillity in the listener. So laid back and luxuriantly relaxing is it that you may find yourself drifting off into a blissful slumber as you listen. It is the musical equivalent of The Little Book of Calm, except it actually works.

Cherokee Red is available to buy here.



2013 Albums of the Year #3: Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

19 Dec

PSB_Album Art

It should come as no surprise at all to anyone who reads Alphabet Bands, even semi-regularly, to see that the debut album by Public Service Broadcasting should feature highly on our list of favourites from 2013. After topping our EP of the Year list in 2012 with The War Room, we, like many many others, were eagerly and excitedly awaiting the arrival of Inform – Educate – Entertain. We were not disappointed.

We’ve spoken at length about how skilfully and artfully they use the music and the melody to complement and enhance the narrative of the samples from old public information films and archive footage, but it is worth stating again. It is far too easy to get lost in the perceived gimmick of Public Service Broadcasting and to our mind that misses the point. The samples are critical of course, but the beauty and enjoyment comes from how they are used and woven into complimentary sounds to convey a narrative, emotion, excitement and energy.

There is no single thread here, but each track has been spun and entwined with its own individual soundtrack. “Signal 30” brilliantly evokes the sense of speed and drama, hurtling along at a breakneck pace with the guitars revving and growling engine like, an undercurrent of barely contained aggression bubbling away. “Everest” is ebullient, uplifting and triumphant. The swell of brass at the tracks culmination brings the feeling of achievement and success to life and instils a sense of warmth and euphoria in the listener while “The Now Generation” is much more playful and light-hearted.

There is variety here in spades, so much so that the samples actually augment the music, not the other way round. Naval Officer Thomas Woodrooffe’s infamous drunken account of the Spithead Review of 1937 could easily be played for laughs and dismissed but instead, on “Lit Up”, it forms a delicate and evocative accompaniment to a moment of wondrous and beautiful calm. ”It’s fairyland, the whole fleet is in fairyland”, he rambles as we are treated to floating electronics and church bells, very much the aural equivalent of the fairy lamps he can see all around him.

On an album as strong as Inform – Educate – Entertain it is hard to pick standout tracks, but you will have to go far to find a better album opener than the title track, a medley of the forthcoming delights that will have fans grinning from ear to ear, while the W.H. Auden featuring “Night Mail” is just sublime.

As wonderful as the samples are and as perfectly chosen and utilised as they have been, attention should be on the undeniable quality of the music presented, the emotions that it is able to stir within and the simple fact that, because of those factors, you will be listening to this for a long time to come. It’s a fantastic accomplishment and one that does everything it says it will, and then some.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out on Test Card Recordings and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.


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Listen: Public Service Broadcasting – “Night Mail”

12 Sep

PSB Night Mail

It’s been quite a year for the charming gents of Public Service Broadcasting already. Their stunningly enjoyable (and educational) debut album stormed the UK top 40 and was nominated for independent album of the year (as well as breakthrough artist) at the recent AIM Awards. Bizarrely, in our opinion, it wasn’t nominated for the Mercury Prize but when you look at the list of albums that didn’t make it, they are in good company.

One award they weren’t nominated for was hardest working band, which beggars belief when you consider their never-ending gig schedule and the number of high quality releases they have put out in the last 12 months or so.

In fact, it is another stellar release that gives us cause to wax lyrical about them once more today as Messrs Willgoose and Wrigglesworth are putting out our favourite track from Inform – Educate – Entertain on 4 November, “Night Mail”. There will also be a video which, as far as we can tell, may even feature the duo themselves rather than just archive footage!

Built around words from the 1936 documentary film of the same name, and the W.H. Auden poem, also of the same name, “Night Mail” is a prime example of what makes Public Service Broadcasting so damn special. It’s not that they use the audio; it’s how they use the audio and how they create and arrange the music to complement and enhance it. To tell a story and give a sense of emotion and connection between words, music and listener.

Auden’s poem itself clatters along with the rhythm, tempo and cadence of a steam train charging through the countryside so it is only right that “Night Mail” does the same. In the same way that “Signal 30” careers recklessly around like a car on the verge of an accident, “Night Mail” remains very much on the tracks, moving relentlessly, excitingly forwards with majestic, rolling scenery all around it. It’s fantastic and as the conductor yells “now” and the train whistle blares out, guitars and drums meet in a perfect storm of controlled energy and ambition as the track steams along.

We love it, all aboard!

”Night Mail” will be released on various formats on 4 Nov and the duo are also releasing a DVD of the album which will feature all the videos, live performances and extras. You can pre-order the DVD now and the first 200 copies will be signed by the band.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out now and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.


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Review: Public Service Broadcasting, Inform – Educate – Entertain

2 May

PSB_Album Art

After wowing fans up and down the country with their live transmissions, repeatedly destroying the competition on 6Music’s ‘Rebel Playlist’ and creating a compelling and heartwrenching EP, the time has finally come for the men of Public Service Broadcasting to step forth with their debut long player. And what an album Inform – Educate – Entertain is, full of familiar as well as reworked favourites from their live shows as well as a smattering of new tracks for our enjoyment.

Should you be new to the world of messrs J. Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth then you are in for a treat. Their modus operandi is simple, “Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future”, and their method is to use the medium of old public information films and archive footage layered over driving rhythms and pulsating atmospheric electronics. The samples are provided largely by the BFI, as well as Canal+ and other assorted sources, but to focus simply on them is like having only the starter of a multi-course, Michelin starred chef prepared gourmet meal. It tastes delicious but there is so much more to enjoy and delight in.

Their real skill is in how they use the music and the melody to complement and enhance the narrative of the samples. This was particularly evident in last year’s exemplary The War Room EP, which wove a single narrative thread across its entirety, perfectly encapsulating the whole gamut of emotions that war brings, as well as the personal devastation it leaves behind.

There is no single thread here, but each track has been spun and entwined with its own individual soundtrack. “Signal 30” brilliantly evokes the sense of speed and drama, hurtling along at a breakneck pace with the guitars revving and growling engine like, an undercurrent of barely contained aggression bubbling away. “Everest” is ebullient, uplifting and triumphant. The swell of brass at the tracks culmination brings the feeling of achievement and success to life and instils a sense of warmth and euphoria in the listener while “The Now Generation” is much more playful and light-hearted. Like you wish The Clothes Show theme tune had actually been.

This ability to convey such a range of emotion allows PSB to avoid entirely any accusation of not offering variety and relying too heavily on a gimmick. There is variety here in spades, so much so that the samples actually augment the music, not the other way round. Naval Officer Thomas Woodrooffe’s infamous drunken account of the Spithead Review of 1937 could easily be played for laughs and dismissed but instead, on “Lit Up”, it forms a delicate and evocative accompaniment to a moment of wondrous and beautiful calm. ”It’s fairyland, the whole fleet is in fairyland”, he rambles as we are treated to floating electronics and church bells, very much the aural equivalent of the fairy lamps he can see all around him.

On an album as strong as Inform – Educate – Entertain it is hard to pick standout tracks, but you will have to go far to find a better album opener than the title track, a medley of the forthcoming delights that will have fans grinning from ear to ear, while the W.H. Auden featuring “Night Mail” is just sublime.

Longstanding fans could possibly grumble that there is not enough new material here but that would be the most minor of quibbles. Instead the focus should be on the undeniable quality of the music presented, the emotions that it is able to stir within and the simple fact that you will be listening to this for a long time to come. It’s a fantastic accomplishment and one that does everything it says it will, and then some.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out on Monday 6 May and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.


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