Public Service Broadcasting is a band that is unique both in name and in sound. When first listening to their music, I was immediately struck by how unusual it is. Like a mixture of spoken work and cascading melodies, Every Valley soon introduced me to a world of music that does not conform to the traditions some artists are constricted and limited by. This new album is an art form – sound bits and orchestra melodies all combine together flawlessly to create a well-thought out package.
What amazed me was the way they constructed it as a concept album. All focusing on the theme of coal disappearing and the coastal towns in Wales going under, every track wraps around this to create an album that is both streamline and enticing without being boring. While all uniting under one bond, each song still sounds unique in its own right. Public Service Broadcasting brings attention to an issue through the platform of music – while still emphasizing the instrumentals that make up each tune. It’s often difficult for musicians to relay a message and to give meaning to their work, and this band takes on that challenge and conquers it.
Opening everything up is the titular track “Every Valley,” which can easily be stated as representative of the whole album. It contains bits and pieces of every aspect embedded throughout the album and we are given a taste of everything to come. The employment of a strings section is often used simply as a background, but they include it as a main attraction and a synchronized glissando begins the piece with smooth start.
Every song on the album has the listener visualizing the lyrics, using imagery in a way that is difficult in music. However, the majority these lyrics are spoken word, which is a gateway for the band to create vivid mini stories for each song. Each track includes some sort of visual which makes up for the lack of “singing” per se. “Progress” speaks on the idea that while there is support for industrializing these coal mining towns in Wales, It also recognizes there is a cost to that – a thought that is touched upon.
The synth in “Go To The Road” is particularly well done all while mixing in guitar that resonates. The sound bites here are in extreme detail, getting across the point that the end for this industry is at an end, but it means a bleak future for the generations to come. It despairs about the acceptance that it’s over that everyone has taken on. The title is very obvious in this as it essentially describes what people must now do – go to the road to look for new jobs. One especially striking lyric is, “The union have accepted it, the part have accepted it/and they’ve made it known to us that under no certain terms/that we’ve reached the end of the road,” the last line conflicting with the title. It insinuates while they must look for jobs, there is no guarantee they will find them.
Throughout the rest of the album, there is a turning point when things get dirtier and more rock influenced. It’s an earthy sound that reaches into the depths of their message, and portrays their sound in a way that is successful and artistic. They take spoken word and develop it into an art form never really given much thought. Every Valley is an album created when passion and poetry came together with music. The result was brilliant songs and a message not to be soon forgotten.