Album: Public Service Broadcasting, The War Room (Test Card)
Sunday 12 August 2012
The "Keep Calm and Carry On" meme, barely seen during wartime but rediscovered at the turn of the millennium, gained traction because it spoke to a mythologised idea of British fortitude and resilience.
Now, after scores of witless tea-towel parodies, its power and poignancy has gone forever. To restore the dignity and gravitas of Britain in the Blitz, enter the experimental duo Public Service Broadcasting.
Granted rare access to the BFI's archive of wartime propaganda films, J Willgoose Esq and Wrigglesworth lay period monologues over electro-rock grooves reminiscent of the 1990s school (Underworld and Chemical Brothers, in particular).
"If War Should Come" carries eerie echoes of the present ("Democracy will triumph"), and ends with Chamberlain's "I have to tell you now, this country is at war." "Waltz For George", on which Willgoose balefully plucks a banjolele that once belonged to his great uncle George, captures the tired troops returning from war, a privilege sadly never afforded to George Willgoose himself, who died, aged 26, at Dunkirk.
The sleeve depicts bowler-hatted Brits perusing the shelves of a bombed-out library, and that sums up the spirit of the contents.
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