• Public Service Broadcasting
  • Inform – Educate – Entertain: The DVD
  • Test Card Recordings

On paper none of this should work. A pair of corduroy-clad geeks revelling in the names J Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth, playing live electronica, ambient pop and hard rock to a mash-up of public information and wartime propaganda films. What?

Yet Public Service Broadcasting are, without question, the most creative, enjoyable and musically talented breakthrough band of the year.

Their debut EP The war Room saw them pulling off the unlikely task of providing a musical backing to Neville Chamberlain’s speech on the outbreak of war, dispatches from Dunkirk and Blitzed London, a propaganda film entreating us to Dig for Victory and a celebration of the Spitfire.

Their debut album saw them widening their scope to encompass road safety, the conquest of Everest and, in the case of new single Night Mail, setting WH Auden’s rhythmic poem (“This is the night mail crossing the border, bringing the cheque and the postal order...) to a dream-pop soundtrack, chunky beats and footage from the eponymous 1936 GPO film.

While compulsive on record, however, PSB can only really be appreciated live; the visuals being as important as the music. To that end, the release of a DVD of the album is a masterstroke.

Make no mistake, this is no standard DVD of a band standing around playing their tunes. Such items are generally of interest only to the nuttiest fans and few warrant more than a second screening.

No, this is the full PSB experience - with audio-visual presentation of the full 11 track album. Among the best are Spitfire, which couples footage from the 1942 film The First of the Few with soaring rock riffs. Also powerful is Night Mail, with its nostalgic footage of steam trains thundering through the night and Everest, with its tale of Hillary and Tenzing’s ascent of the mountain. Best though is Lit Up - a lump-in-the-throat gorgeous description of a Naval review, set to footage of Royal Navy life: images of sailors exercising, parading and at play, giving way to footage of battle, storms, wrecks and the Pacific atom bomb tests. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

As might be expected, the disc comes with some particularly lovely bonus features, with a film of life on the road with the band (well, duo), commentaries by J Willgoose for each track, live versions and extra music videoes, and footage of a live show at East London’s Village Underground where, incidentally, they this year play an NYE show.

If you were lucky enough to see PSB at Oxfordshire’s Truck festival this summer, or on their recent sold-out tour, you’ll already ‘get’ the buzz. If you didn’t, but have any interest in creative music and film making this is essential viewing - and listening. Everything else is boring.