The Spook School Make a Glossy Return with their Third LP
On the cusp of a North American tour with New York band, Diet Cig, the Glasgow four piece have traded in the grittiness of their previous work for a glistening new sound. Could it Be Different? Released on January 26th by Arcopop! Records introduces a pop element to the previously raw, unhinged energy of The Spook School. With this album, the band strikes the perfect balance between a catchy pop album and the emotional intensity of a gritty punk band.
The Spook School has always been known to create intensely positive tunes in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations and Could it Be Different? is a perfect example of that. The past year has brought along with it dramatic changes in the political and social sphere that seem to be for the worse. The band honors that suffering, while still remaining hopeful and resilient. Nothing encapsulates this more than the anthemic opener, “Still Alive”, which chronicles the aftermath of an abusive relationship. The lyrics, “Fuck you I’m still alive!” are sure to be sung by queer folk everywhere who have been spit up and chewed out by the world. These words serve as a beacon of hope to anyone trapped in an abusive relationship and a mantra for anyone who is just trying their best to get by. That is the effect that The Spook School has on the music scene and the world. They provide hope to people who need it by producing upbeat anthems that seep with honesty and emotional intensity.
Remaining true to their acquired label of a “politically aware queer band”, the album contains songs that speak truthfully to uniquely queer experiences. Written through the lens of a trans person experiencing body dysmorphia, “Body” serves as a reminder that body positivity and self acceptance are part of a slow process—not only to their trans and queer fanbase, but seemingly as a reminder to the songwriter himself. “I still hate my body but I’m learning to love what it can do.” There are countless songs out there about loving yourself, but not as many that speak to the unique challenges of trans people and the Spook School is changing that one rosy tune at a time.
Even the love songs on the album are painted with an infusion of reality. The track “Alright (Sometimes)” is a love song written through the eyes of someone who is tired of the fetishization of romance. The line, “I don’t even feel comfortable in my skin, but with you I feel alright sometimes” reminds us that a romantic partner cannot magically make our problems go away, but they can make us feel alright sometimes. In a culture that advertises romance as a cure-all for life’s problems, the song carries an important message that a relationship is a support system, not a magic pill.
The uncanny ability to carry an endlessly positive tone when dealing with heavy subject matter is a talent of The Spook School that continues into their new album. With, Could it Be Different?, they have managed to create a polished album that rocks all the way through while still remaining unapologetically true to themselves—not only as artists, but as people as well. While they may be dealing with heavy self esteem issues in their personal lives, their musical confidence is through the roof. They have created a sound that is cohesive, emotional, and quintessentially The Spook School