Charting the rise and tragic fall of coal mining in industrial South Wales would never be an easy story to tell – much less so when told by a trio of London art rockers barely out of uni, but Public Service Broadcasting have achieved a rare thing on their third album: a genuinely sincere ode to one of the most sensitive periods in modern British history. Relocating to Ebbw Vale, deep in the heart of the Valleys, front man J. Willigoose Esq. immersed himself in getting to know the area, and even recorded the album in a warehouse next to the town’s defunct steelworks.
Spun as an electro concept album interspersed with sampled clippings of news broadcasts and public information films during the latter part of last century, “Every Valley” leaves a profound impression throughout its immersive 45-minute run time.
The optimism and pride of an industry in boom during the opening act (“every little boy’s ambition in my valley was to become a miner” we’re told by one of the “Kings of the Underworld”), slowly give way to the creeping doubt of progress; “machines will do our jobs, brains not brawn”. The clipped British accents and deep-voiced valleymen set to swelling electronic keyboards do little to soften the nightmare of pit cave-ins, impending picket lines, Thatcherism and the looming presence of Arthur Scargill.
By the album’s central act beginning with the rage-filled stomp of “All Out”, and defiant “Turn No More” (featuring Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfield) it’s clear that Welsh coalmining is doomed. Only the final moving chorus of “Take Me Home” by the Beaufort Welsh Men’s Choir is able to provide a glimmer of hope. Stirring stuff, beautifully executed.
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Public Service Broadcasting | Every Valley