The Spook School – Could It Be Different?

Glasgow quartet The Spook School return with an album of brilliantly catchy and inventive songs that leave you thinking

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 22 Jan 2018
Album title: Could It Be Different?
Artist: The Spook School
Label: Alcopop! Records
Release date: 26 Jan

Yet another success story in the long lineage of Scottish twee-pop/alt-rock bands, The Spook School approach their third album on the verge of super-stardom. Blending the classic sound of canonised bands like The Pastels or Teenage Fanclub with more recent acts like Los Campesinos! or Trust Fund, The Spook School are readying a huge tour with Diet Cig in the States this year. 

Their first two records, 2013’s Dress Up and 2015’s Try to Be Hopeful, saw the young band still finding their feet. Assured of their sound yes, but they’ve grown in confidence – and production values – year upon year, and with Could it Be Different? they find their first release for Alcopop! brimming with immediacy and urgency.

In a year (and counting) where political discourse turned mightily regressive, 2017 saw an upturn in queer, p.o.c and female artists getting a more-equal footing with their traditionally honoured cis-male counterparts. This is important for The Spook School who, underneath their poppy shine, are at their heart a fierce yet proud band who are challenging the norm. While this isn't a measuring stick to use for or against them, the Glasgow-based quartet back it up with brilliantly catchy and inventive songs that will ensure a smile and a toe-tap while making their audience think.

Opener Still Alive, with its 'Fuck you, I'm still alive' refrain, is the perfect encapsulation of that feeling: a song that seethes in anger post-abusive relationship, but manages to get immediately lodged in one's head. Elsewhere, Bad Year reflects on the country's politics and Body addresses self-confidence in body image, while closer High School speaks directly to every kid who went through school feeling like an outsider.

Meanwhile, bassist Anna Cory-led songs Less Than Perfect, I Only Dance When I Want To and While You Were Sleeping provide perfect moments of pop sweetness in classic two-and-a-half minute punk songs akin to The Shop Assistants or Beat Happening. 

It's been an incredible rise from The Spook School, who now find themselves on the cusp of greatness with their defining statement of a third record. They are yet another example of Scotland's rich history in artistry and fiercely Do It Yourself attitudes, once again being rewarded for the hard work and dedication this country nurtures.

Listen to: Still Alive, Less Than Perfect, Bad Year, High School