31 Oct 2015

Spook School / Try To Be Hopeful (album review)


I guess it's normal for fairly young bands to come across as struggling to come to terms with their identity and whatnot, as all those cliches are almost old hat in indie and alternative music. But with Spook School, lyrically one of the most important, inspiring, and accomplished indie bands on the circuit right now, those assertions are a little more accurate than they are for most bands.    

For those just reading this review because I've begged you to in a tweet that don't really know who the band are, the lead vocalist of Spook School, Nye Todd, is a trans man has been undergoing testosterone since the recording of this record has been in the works. This means that not only does his vocal change from track to track - sounding so different between my two favourites Burn Masculinity and Binary (with the ever so thick Scottish accent being a constant) - but it also means lyrically the themes explored go much deeper than your average messy-haired indie pop love song.

But whilst doing this, the band really don't abandon a sense of fun, with messy love song I wanna kiss you making its way in their, increasing the record's fun factor by a hundred times. By the same token though, the band, even when taking calculated pops at the uber-macho nature of the patriarchal society, of which Try To Be Hopeful comments on so astutely on Burn Masculinity ('and I've got to accept that I'm inheriting a privelege I should be aware off/so I'll burn burn burn burn masculinity'), do so over the top of that C86 sugar-coated jangle-pop that their Fortuna POP label so effortlessly put out.

Musically, it's just as on point as it is lyrically - Hookworms' MJ is at his best again - with songs like Everybody Needs To Be In Love and Books and Hooks and Movements are really brilliant fuzzy indie pop gems that you can dance around your room, and even tracks like Binary where the vocals are pushed right up in the mix (as they should be!), the music is just danceable and enjoyable and captures that energetic teenage movement that bands like Joanna Gruesome and Sauna Youth have a complete mastery of.

This record is such a brilliant album, and it deserves to have so much more of an audience than it does, because Spook School are just the perfect band who cover issues and themes that need covering so brilliantly. Do yourselves a favour and buy this LP.

8.4/10

(written by calum cashin)