The 20th Century is monumental for history –in particular the competition between the USA and the USSR in dominating space travel left its mark. Hoping to retell the tale through music, the band Public Service Broadcasting has created an album, appropriately titled, The Race For Space. The album is an atmospheric masterpiece, throwing you back into the space race, witnessing some of the most important events. As a brief warning, Public Service Broadcasting’s newest album isn’t just music –and this is important to understand. This album has a mission: send man into space.
The album kicks off utilizing one of JFK’s speeches on the United States’ goals and dreams of entering space. At first it’s a bit comical and cliche, especially as the album quickly shifts gears into a simplistic electronic tune. On the other hand, the way Public Service Broadcasting utilizes various samples from radio broadcasts, speeches, and otherwise is magnificent. Throughout the album, every little voice has purpose. While the melodies that the band crafted provide a certain atmosphere and suck you in and send you back in time, the samples provide context. On the surface, it’s not too impressive but considering the entirety of the album and overwhelming effect it has shows a clear genius.
Really it’s rare to find an album this well composed. None of the songs are too incredibly intricate, despite often carrying post-rock vibes. Instead they really focus on the setting and bringing the listener in on a time the youth of today missed out on. It’s shocking how effective the entire album is. A few instruments go a long way.
Now The Race For Space isn’t strictly atmospheric –the album does feature a couple of jams. The first to really break through and stir things up is “Gagarin.” The tune is incredibly climatic and it should be –it’s named after the first man in space. The track opens with a drum roll and then blast of horns, soon things transition into a jazzy blast of excitement. The guitar line mixed with supporting horns is fantastic.
Another stellar tune featured in The Race For Space is “The Other Side.” The song conforms a bit more to typical album layout. Starting with a set of synths and a well placed recording of Apollo 8’s mission around the moon, the track builds in texture over time, like building excitement. By the midpoint of the song, the mixture of synths, guitar, drum beat, and sampling really grabs hold of you. Shortly after, we lose signal with Apollo 8 and perfectly planned, the band lays off, allowing the song to settle down a bit. Details such as this help bring the listener in on the moment. As the album comes to an end, a slightly ominous vibe, and then a burst of energy.
Public Service Broadcasting’s The Race For Space is out of this world. Maybe there’s just something about the post-rock vibe, maybe it’s the whole wonder of space bleeding into the album –it doesn’t matter. The point is, the band managed to capture a certain feeling and really hit home with it. To those who looked up to the night sky and wondered what was out there, this album is for you.