Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
Following their concept album dedicated to the space race, Public Service Broadcasting bring things back down to earth and then some with Every Valley, an emotionally and texturally rich record which digs into the history of the Welsh mining industry and reflects upon the legacy of deindustrialisation in Britain. Combining archive clips and interview snippets with a sweeping post-rock score, the band gives new meaning to the notion of aural history as they weave a loosely chronological narrative that charts the opening of the pits through to the miners’ strike and the subsequent mass redundancies.
Raw, harsh, mechanical – this is how music inspired by heavy industry typically sounds. Every Valley however is lush and symphonic, more interested in expressing the human spirit of the mining communities than aestheticising the conditions in which they toiled. There’s certainly a degree of sentimentality afoot – with all the shimmering strings and twinkling xylophones there couldn’t not be – but the overall picture of the mining years is a nuanced one, a celebratory but critical overview of a pivotal period in British history.
Progress, which features vocals from Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, embodies this tension spectacularly. It’s 'I believe in progress' hook could easily have been portrayed cynically, an opportunity for PSB to cast a smug side-eye at the naive technological idealism of an earlier era. Instead it’s utterly euphoric. It seems to say “yes, progress – but on our terms” and is a testament to the power not of coal, but people.
Listen to: Progress, Every Valley