We first heard about Public Service Broadcasting when we saw they were playing the Boileroom in Guildford and were instantly captivated by the write-up. The duo, made up of the fantastically named J. Willgoose, Esq and his drummer Wrigglesworth, use archive material from the BFI and StudioCanal, as well as classic American public information systems, to soundtrack their live performances and now they release their debut album ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’. The band claims the album’s title is their mission statement. Will they manage to fulfil their objectives?
The title track opens the album and the fuzzy beginning brings back memories of analogue signals and ancient films, before the electronics kick in to throw the song into dancefloor-filler territory. Among the samples included are statements about how ‘A bright new era is coming’, showing just what the band are trying. With added guitar riffs, the spoken-word samples become more fraught and apologetic before the quote ‘Come on, I’ll give you a real ride’ pushes the beat-laden song towards a smashing climax. The name of the band is also repeated over and over again throughout the song, just because they want to remind you who you’re listening to. Brilliantly, ‘Spitfire’ opens with a talk about birds, although ‘It isn’t exactly a bird I’m creating, is it?’, ‘It’s a curious sort of bird. A bird that breathes fire and spits out death and destruction. A spitfire bird’ giving the listener a minor history of this incredible flying machine, and the dangers it possessed, all while the music builds up time and time again in post-rock fashion.
‘Theme from PSB’ hints at the intelligent pop bands like Alt-j and Django Django who are around at the moment in its instrumentation and features the same quote of PSB’s (no, not the Pet Shop Boys) name as was featured on the first track. At around 1 and a half minutes, a banjo enters the fray and mixes with laptop glitches and effects almost seamlessly. New single ‘Signal 30’ is broodier than what has come before with the samples discussing death, car crashes and an altogether more intense guitar-led sound. ‘Qomolangma’ is a 2-minute burst of early Sigur Ros-style atmospherics that gives the listener a restbite before they up the stakes again on ‘ROYGBIV’, a song that features a list of colours and then goes on to provide a list of inspirational quotes about colour and what an effect it has on the human species. The banjo makes another welcome appearance here along with entrancing electronics and the song packs a surprisingly emotional punch.
‘The Now Generation’ opens with the line ‘Hello everyone, thanks for coming to our little fashion show’ and then features samples all about deciding what to wear, asking how you look and future fashion (ie what we were expected to be wearing now, aluminium wedding dresses, anyone?). Is it a biting satire on the importance some people weigh on fashion or just a load of nice samples mixed into a huge thumping clubbing sound? ‘Lit Up’ starts off on the HMS Nelson and really does transport you into feeling like you’re on the ship with its slow-burning electronics and interrupted samples, before the pace quickens with the keyboards bringing to mind Gorillaz’ ‘On Melancholy Hill’.
Just imagine that iLiKETRAiNS discovered hallucinogens and decided to play about in the British Library, while buzzing off Seams and the Beta Band, and you’re only halfway to figuring out what this record sounds like. What Public Service Broadcasting have created with ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is an album quite unlike anything you’ve heard before, and one that you’re not likely to hear anything too similar to ever again, and for this they have to be applauded. Enjoy the ride, you might just learn something along the way…
‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is released via Test Card Recordings on 6 May 2013.