If a debut LP is an artist’s introduction to the world and their sophomore release is their now or never moment, their third is their most cathartic: they’ve made it out, they’re here. Glasgow, Scotland’s indie-pop optimists The Spook School, despite personal and political obstacle, made it out, and their latest full-length Could It Be Different? is here. It’s been a journey of self-discovery and feel-good realism; modern, dance-friendly indie-pop fuelling the fun. They made a name for themselves for their exultant and empowering pop, and now, they’ve shown real growth in nuance.
The Spook School are Nye Todd (guitar/vocals), Anna Cory (bass/vocals), Adam Todd (guitar/vocals) and Niall McCamley (drums). Since forming in 2012, they’ve released two records to critical acclaim: 2013’s Dress Up, a gender-binary eradicating release—noisy, cheery pop critical of social construction and its limitations, and 2015’s Try to Be Hopeful, a celebration of queer and trans identities from a place of newfound self-assurance. The band, whose name originates from the Glasgow School, have lived a lot of life since then: Could It Be Different? was written from space that follows aplomb. “You’re comfortable with yourself, as much as you ever can be but you have to live with that person anyway,” Nye says of the record, “There are more questions than answers. That’s why the title works well—it has that insecurity to it.” Adam agrees, “It also comes from a place of feeling like everything definitely isn’t alright now,” pausing. “Maybe things could change?”
Could It Be Different? is a human release—a record full of the insecurities and anxiety that arrive after self-awareness, in learning something new and potentially frightening about yourself. But at it’s heart is joy—there’s no desolation on the LP, because The Spook School manage to find light in moments of darkness. All things glum must pass—even if hope comes only in the form of acceptance. “We try to take sad songs and not shy away from them, but come out thinking ‘things will change.’ Otherwise everything would be dreadful and I feel bad enough as it is,” Niall laughs. “We need a bit of light in our lives.” Adam agrees, “We started this for fun. We want our shows to be fun. We want the people who come to our shows to feel welcomed, and to have fun. There’s a bit of party in our songs, no matter what the subject matter is.” Why cry when you can dance?
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