Pay attention, Public Service Broadcasting are back with another history lesson. Following the huge success of debut album Inform - Educate - Entertain and the subsequent worldwide tour a new album has emerged. The subject matter this time shifts from World War Two which was used during their first outing on 2012’s The War Room EP to The Space Race of the mid-1950s through to the early 1970s.
‘Sputnik’ gets the album off to a proper start with snippets of archive radio and spoken word which may indicate that the whole album will simply be a chronological history lesson. Yet the next track ‘Gagarin’ is a wonderful rock funk inspired track which celebrates the world’s first cosmonaut, Soviet Yuri Gagarin. It illustrates that although the album may be have its roots firmly embedded in a historical time period, this does not mean the music has to be historical or even retrospective.
However, the following tracks ‘E.V.A.’ and ‘The Other Side’ again start to feel like a return to the proverbial classroom and these laid back tracks continue to reference the events within The Space Race. Although some of the spoken word is looped and used as much for its musical expression as well as historical information it could prove tiresome for some ears, but it is certainly capable of inspiring enjoyment.
As if to prove a point that this album is not rooted in The Space Race, ‘Valentina’ see the duo’s only collaboration with the featured Smoke Fairies who will be supporting the band on their upcoming UK tour. This is a beautiful laid back track with minimal use of samples. It further illustrates the ability of the group, and that they are a group of talented musicians and producers, as well as being the best History teachers you never had in school.
‘Go!’ is undoubtedly the best track on the album. It features the definitive event of the time period, that of the Apollo Moon landings. Its use of iconic speeches from astronauts that we are all familiar with, such as "The Eagle has landed", combined with its clever use of looped spoken word allow the track to gather pace whilst celebrating the achievements of NASA.
It could be easy to dismiss this album as a concept album with a collection of samples with added laid back beats. To some it may even be able to label the whole album as a gimmick. However, it’s evident that J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth, and anyone behind the scenes, have used a wonderful array of samples which combine to explore what we seem to have forgotten.
In summary, this album is a wonderful reflection and celebration of a unique period in human history, where we all questioned what was beyond the Earth and our place in the universe. The Space Race may be over, but the questions about what's out there and our role within it still remain largely unanswered.