Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room

This was released in 2012 and, I guess, it would be classed as a mini album, having only 5 tracks and clocking in at only about 18 minutes, maybe it’s just a 12″ single, anyway, I’ve had it a while and I write about it now as I remembered something I had forgotten, which is that I’ve been to the war rooms in London. Having had a little ponder about that I listened to this and now here I am writing about it.

I was there for a seminar or conference, I can’t even remember what it was about now, but we had a tour of the place, some of which you can see in the picture above (which is behind glass, you can’t actually go inside that bit). They are called Churchill War Rooms and are one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. Construction of the Cabinet War Rooms, located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, began in 1938. They became fully operational on 27 August 1939, a week before Britain declared war on Germany. The War Rooms remained in operation throughout the Second World War, before being abandoned in August 1945 after the surrender of Japan.

My best guess is that I was there around 18 years ago, it was rather fascinating and it is worth a look around if you are ever in the area. I don’t know if the Public Service Broadcasting album is a direct reference to these rooms, but it probably is as the subject matter is the second world war.

PSB (Not the Pet Shop Boys) have a style that they stick quite rigidly to, namely a sort of post/kraut rock instrumentation overlaid with vocal samples usually taken from original sources. For example, Tracks 1, 2 & 4 contain samples from films of the same name and track 3 contains samples from ‘The First Of The Few’. When these are then combined with archive footage they become more powerful, such as when used as the below:

This happens to be a style that I rather like, although I know there are many that feel it is limiting and, perhaps, more of the same for each release. I came across them via their last full album, Every Valley based around the demise of the Welsh Mining Industry, which was something I had an understanding of and an empathy with. I’ve bought earlier albums as well, and there is a Titanic related release out now, and I still haven’t lost interest, so I’ll probably get a copy. We all like what we like and don’t like what we don’t like, and I like this, History and music combined, it is a potent combination.

I’ve actually read accounts of people leaving PSB gigs in tears, so touched where they by what they’s just witnessed, and I think I understand that. While reading a book gives us information or watching a film draws us in, there is something about music in combination with these that make people feel, actually feel, and it manifests itself in different ways for different people.

Rating: 8.4