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On paper, Public Service Broadcasting sound nothing more than a gimmick. A band that utilises samples from propaganda films and archival footage to create experimental tracks sounds like something a university lecturer who'd been listening to too much J Dilla or The Avalanches would do to jazz up a lecture. And yet, in practise, the end result is something unique and exciting; each sample used with real care so as to create an unusual yet interesting atmosphere. Of course, they are still an acquired taste, more BBC4 than Radio 1, but the mix of Boards of Canada style ambient instrumentals with the glimpses into a long gone ideal of Britain, all Received Pronunciation and war time anxiety, was a heady one that continued to intrigue.

The problem with Public Service Broadcasting's USP is that it can wear thin quite quickly. Their debut album, Inform-Educate-Entertain, often found itself scrabbling for ideas, with some tracks feeling like rehashed versions of ones we'd only just heard. When it worked, it worked extremely well, becoming something of a fascinating curio, but by the album's end, it was nearly impossible to see where they could go next without retreading the same ground and becoming a little stale. The answer, it turns out, is space.

The difference between The Race for Space and Inform-Educate-Entertain is that, with The Race for Space, the duo (J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth; exactly the sort of names you'd expect them to have) have allowed the samples room to breathe and tell their stories more efficiently. The thematic approach Inform-Educate-Entertain followed was one that benefited from the cutting and splicing of the samples; each news item or film clip acting like little items in an exhibit that, together, tell the story. The samples used in The Race for Space, however, are themselves the story so it works to simply add the instrumentation to the samples, rather than the other way around, to create an atmosphere and enhance these already existing stories. It feels more like British Sea Power's ambient soundtrack album Man of Aran than The Avalanches' sample-heavy Since I Left You and, for the subject matter, it works.

The album kicks off with JFK's "We choose to go to the moon" speech, which reinvigorated the US' interest in the space race, despite them trailing behind. With its swelling choral chant, 'The Race For Space' begins what is an album full of reinvigoration of our interest in the space race and captures the magic of the time that we've long since forgotten where anything felt possible. 'Sputnik' is packed full of ominous bleeps and bloops that captures the uneasiness felt by venturing into the unknown but is also full of a tingling excitement and wonder as to the possibilities it could hold. 'Go!', an album highlight, is a track that utilises the organised chaos of a space flight centre to create something that bristles with electricity and momentum.

There are times, however, when things don't quite work as planned. Though getting 'Smoke Fairies' on board for a celebration of the first woman in space sounds good on paper, 'Valentina' falls a bit flat, especially compared to the similarly themed funky-as-all-hell 'Gagarin' which is very reminiscent of some of the best Cake tracks. The tone of 'Gagarin' may be a little off, especially compared to the rest of the album, but it redeems itself in how purely addictive it is to listen to. 'Fire In The Cockpit', like 'Valentina', fails to do justice to the events it is representing, in this case the fire that claimed the lives of three astronauts during a rehearsal for the Apollo 1 mission, which lacks the emotion and poignancy that such an event deserves.

Luckily, for every 'Fire In The Cockpit', there is a 'The Other Side' which is a track that so perfectly manages to capture the anxiety, excitement and, finally, the climactic relief inside Apollo mission control as they waited for Apollo 8 to appear from behind the Moon and come back into signal range. Each and every time I've listened to it, I've had goosebumps as you hear nothing but static and the nervous voice of Apollo control until the guitars begin to swell and Apollo 8 make radio contact once more. This is the pinnacle of what Public Service Broadcasting are trying to achieve, by breathing new life into dusty old relics, and it makes for truly magical, exhilarating listening.

The Space Race is definitely a subject too big to be tackled properly, giving justice to each and every milestone, but The Race for Space gives a hell of a good go at it. It's still flawed but, with a focus more on events than themes, The Race for Space as a whole feels more focused and confident in itself than Inform-Educate-Entertain, leading to some memorable moments. It's an album that wonderfully conjures up the cauldron of emotions that came from those first steps out into the great unknown: the dangers, the excitement, the belief that anything is possible.

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