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The Spook School - Could It Be Different? (Album Review)

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 Written by Jennifer Geddes

There is strength in vulnerability on the Spook School’s third album, ‘Could It Be Different?’. And it’s more than just a rush of power chords that fills the listener with enthusiasm. Over fuzzy feedback and infectious guitar hooks, the band reveal their fears and hopes about politics, relationships and their own selves.

The album opens with a sound clip from stand up and activist Josie Long - perhaps the band’s comedic equivalent - as she talks about about how the government is grinding her down. Her response is to say ‘fuck them’. This combination of feeling and resolve feeds throughout the album.

Bad Year was written the day after the Brexit vote. “It’s been a bad year and I don’t think it’s getting any better any time soon,” Nye Todd sings. “And I’m so scared what’s coming, I don’t know what to do. I want to help. I want all of my friends not to be terrified. I’d like to understand and not give in to the anger that’s inside.”

It’s a sentiment that 49% of the UK, waking up the same morning, probably felt. The band don’t use the track as political platform, though, instead focusing on the emotional response: “I admire your optimism. But Sometimes I just need to feel it. Just need to take a moment before I can’t start dealing.” The track ends with with a realistic but positive message: “Tomorrow we’ll wake up and keep on going.”

The Spook School want to fill their audience with a sense of power. Body is a positive message written about Nye embracing his trans identity. “Do you believe me when I tell you you’re beautiful?” he sings. “‘Cos I know I don’t believe you. I still hate my body. But I’m learning to love what it can do.” At shows the band request gender neutral toilets and push to make them a safe space for everyone. It’s not a coincidence they can feel like something special.

While the band often write about trans and queer issues, the songs on ‘Could It Be Different?’ are universally relatable however you identify. That's whether it’s a house party romance on I Only Dance When I Want To, or wondering what life might have been like if you had been different as a teenager on High School: “And if I played sports in high school, would I have wasted less time? Would I have come out earlier, or would I keep it inside?”

‘Could It Be Different?’ answers its titular question through its own existence. Through the Spook School‘s own actions they provide a place where we can all work through our pain with an emphatic fuck you and indie-pop dancing.

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