“Well space is there, and we’re going to climb it.”
What is it?
The Race For Space is Public Service Broadcasting’s second full album release, part of a sequence of records centered on a specific arc of historical events. Over the course of nine songs they hit a number of both high and low points along the path of what’s now called “the space race.”
How does it sound?
Everyone’s tuning in to the bleep bleep of the sampler mix:
Why this pick?
When it comes right down to it, I picked this one because “Gagarin” and “Go!” are the best possible introductions to what this band is about: Great musical grooves and audio clips from archival film footage married together in an unexpected but often entertaining way. Their first full album is titled Inform-Educate-Entertain and they do, in fact, deliver on that mandate here.
Basically, if you like this one? Lucky you! There’s the previous album, there’s the superb War Room EP, and there’s the latest album, Every Valley.
Which songs are the highlights?
“Gagarin” gets you grooving and takes up residence in your head for days afterward. “Go!” is almost as upbeat, though part of what makes it compelling is that it’s basically about the Apollo 11 landing itself. I can’t help but get caught up in that moment, every time. “E.V.A.” is nearly as groove-inducing as “Gagarin,” and “The Other Side” is another nice piece, mellower than the others but still plenty enjoyable.
Which songs don’t work so well?
It seems unfair to say that the title track doesn’t work, as it’s really just the JFK “we choose to go to the moon” speech with some backing music meant to serve as a short lead-in to the album proper. And then there’s “Fire in the Cockpit,” which is a somber piece for a tragic moment in the history of space flight. Neither is bad, but you probably won’t cue them up very often either.
“Valentina” is… nice, I guess? Not my speed or style, really.
Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?
The clear runner-up is the War Room EP: Four nearly perfect songs followed by one short unmemorable piece. I recommend it most highly if you dig anything you hear from The Race For Space. Heck, though, if you dig this record you should just buy all the rest of their stuff anyway.
Any final thoughts?
I’m amused that one of my longest-running favorite bands and one of my newest favorites share an acronym. It means, among other things, that I can make an “hour of PSB” smart playlist in MediaMonkey and get good songs by two different musicians.
I considered putting this back to back with Fundamental to make a brief PSB-a-thon, but decided against it. There will be plenty enough opportunities for shenanigans later this year…