The eagerly awaited third album from Public Service Broadcasting takes their very best elements and applies them to a subject matter of real depth. Whereas their musical documentary on the race for space was charming and humourous, Every Valley tackles subjects closer to the heart, charting as it does the rise and fall of mining in South Wales. As it does so the carefully constructed music and sound clips feel like a reflection on the current age of austerity – but there is music of real hope and power here too. James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers is the high profile guest on ‘Turn No More’, but his vocals are subtle and it is particularly moving to hear some singing in Welsh. There is some incredibly descriptive writing in here, from the dragging brass of ‘The Pit’, as the industrial machines grind into gear, to the fulsome cellos of ‘People Will Always Need Coal’. The regret at the industry’s decline is fully realised in ‘Mother Of The Village’, following on from the darkly shaded ‘All Out’, the story of the miners’ strike and its implications. Having plumbed the depths the music returns to an optimistic viewpoint, with the Beaufort Male Voice Choir employed for the uplifting closing ‘Take Me Home’. With more orchestral colours at their fingertips this time around, Public Service Broadcasting have made an impressive step up to deal with subjects of substance and powerful communal meaning. They do so in such a sensitive way that ‘Every Valley’ demands to be heard. It is a fitting homage to a now defunct industry if not community, just as relevant now as its subject was in the 1980s.
Ben Hogwood
5 out of 5