The Spook School – ‘Could It Be Different?’

By Susannah Bennett

‘Could It Be Different?’ is the eagerly anticipated third album from Glasgow indie punks The Spook School. It’s a life-affirming release that quickly proves invaluable; there’s an overwhelming sense of hope and optimism at its core that won’t fail to empower those who are struggling to come to terms with who they are. The Spook School just want to have fun. ‘Could It Be Different?’ is full of infectious queer pop anthems that allow you to dance and cry at the same time. It’s an absolute pleasure to listen to, one that instils pride and brings much-needed joy into your life.

The Spook School stand-out with ease because they have something important to say. Opening track ‘Still Alive’ is a triumphant celebration at having escaped an abusive relationship. Feelings of anger and resentment towards abusive behaviour are made clear by the chorus lyrics “fuck you, I’m still alive”. However, the track’s glorious hook champions survival and radiates an incredible sense of pride and confidence. It’s a courageous testament to the strength it takes to do the right thing and make it out of a difficult situation alive.

Even when discussing difficult and traumatic experiences, The Spook School always arrive at a place of hope and triumph. Their ability to affirm and encourage listeners with their exultant sound is commendable, helping you to find points of light in impossible darkness. Written by Nye Todd the day after the UK’s Brexit vote, the melancholic ‘Bad Year’ reflects back on the struggles of the past twelve months. It has a political scope that’s poignantly universal, the disheartened repetition of “it’s been a bad year” drapes the song with a heaviness that reflects the burdens of the year gone by, meaning that this track will be pertinent for many.

‘Body’ charts the conflict between feeling uncomfortable with your body and striving to learn to love yourself. The growth of self-confidence is palpable as the fuzzy riffs and vocals are amplified to accompany the lyrics “I still hate my body, but I’m learning to love what it can do”. The Spook School inspire confidence with enormous hooks, and celebrate the importance of learning to love and accept yourself. The heart of ‘Could It Be Different?’ is a place where strength and pride prevail, always encouraging you to be your best self.

Led by bassist Anna Cory, tracks like ‘Less Than Perfect’ and ‘I Only Dance When I Want To’ are perfect examples of feel-good indie-pop. They’re bursting with fun, fuzzy guitar riffs and an infectious optimism that will leave you feeling hopeful. Nostalgic tracks like ‘Keep in Touch’ and ‘High School’ take a slower pace, lingering wistful riffs and introspective lyrics reflecting on changes and past experiences from a place of newfound strength. ‘High School’ wonders “would I have come out earlier? Or would I keep it inside?”, reflecting a curiosity for how things could have gone. Ending with this track reflects The Spook School’s ability to look back and see how far they’ve come.

‘Could It Be Different?’ is a pivotal release, one that will leave you feeling stronger. The Spook School are a much-needed spark of brilliance. Their contagious, identity-affirming indie-pop inspires confidence and joy. The strength of this album comes from its ability to celebrate queer identities and draw continued resilience from difficulty. It’ll make you look at things from a new perspective and instill hope in those who are confused or struggling. It’s stronger and sharper than anything they’ve released before, and as always, their optimism is admirable.

SUSANNAH BENNETT

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