The School do a pretty good job of fooling listeners with their 1960’s style pop music: the sleeve art in particular is designed and filtered just right. But Wasting Away And Wondering is a brand new, freshly recorded album. A bright, bouncy sunshine record for a past remembered without being experienced. On Elefant.
LP £18.49 ER1201LP
LP on Elefant.
CD £11.99 ER1201
CD on Elefant.
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- Wasting Away and Wondering by The School
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I’ll let you into a secret. We’ve spent a lot of the last month or so speculating about the inner workings of this indie-pop band. We are convinced (due to their name and their image) that they are school teachers who convene at half term to make sweet indie music together. The sort that makes Belle and Sebastian sound like Slayer. We also figure that there’s some kind of love quadrangle going on in the band and that at least two of them are officially a couple.
Aaaanyway in order to avoid the usual complaints about us talking about anything but the music I’d better get on and listen. It’s that kind of indie that takes some kind of distant influence from Motown and Northern Soul. Watered down is the not the right expression but imagine if Northern Soul was the washing up liquid and post C86 indie was the water - it’s that kind of equation. Although they bear a resemblance to bands like Camera Obscura, there is a lot of the sound of Amelia Fletcher and her Heavenly clan here. I can cope with sickly twee-ness when it's done well and luckily out of the first three songs, two of them have really catchy choruses. ‘All I Want From You Is Everything’ is particularly lovely and by rights should be getting spins on Rad Mac. It’s nicely put together with a softly polished sound, strumming guitars and an infectious chorus. They add lashings of strings and brass that augment the songs rather than swamp them.
I was really worried that to hate on this record was a bit like hating on a particularly fluffy Bedlington terrier but luckily the songs a pretty decent throughout and singer Liz Hunt has a lovely soft voice so I’ve put all my prejudices aside and cuddled up in its innocent charms.
9/10 SteveeeNash Customer review, 30th August 2015
The School return ironically on the week of the new school term with their third long player, it delights on every level and there's a lot of levels. 'Every Day' starts off with familiar reverby guitars, smooth strings and a typically upbeat late Fifties rock n roll beat. It's a very good song and takes off where the second album and recent EP left off. After this, the album really takes off, the range of sounds, the styles, the sophistication of the song writing, it's all gone up a gear or two. 'Love is Anywhere' is so well written, the structure in the song writing here is even more than we're used to before, it swoons from medium to low pace and contains about four different songs in one, the instrumental brass and strings really show how much more can be packed into every School track and it makes for perfect listening.
'Till You Belong To Me' displays yet more again, more layers, more instrumentation, making the song even bigger, this is what the band do now, just make everything sound bigger on top of even greater songs. 'Don't Worry Baby' is stunning, there's no doubt it leans heavily on it's Shirelles influence but it's the most beautiful ballad. The band have done ballads before but at the level they have now reached, it pulls heavily on the minor chords, the drums and the most majestic strings to form an outstanding song. One of their very finest songs yet.
The title track is so happy and poppy, it doesn't reflect what you'd think the title seems to mean, after this the album takes on an even more magical turn and goes into fifth gear with an incredible Northern Soul floorshaker in 'Do I Love You' it's so perfect it could grace the floors of Wigan, Blackpool or Cleethorpes any night of the week, the descending chorus just adds another dimension and when Liz goes all high pitched Yes I do boy at the end it injects even more soul to the record if that were actually possible.
Things don't stop there though, 'He's Gonna Break Your Heart' takes us back down in that Shagri-Las 'Walking In The Sand' sort of way before we get pushed right back up with another brilliant soul stomper 'Put Your Hand In Mine', it's another Northern nugget driven heavily by luscious strings and choppy guitar and the most swooning floaty vocals on the chorus. Apart from the development in the song writing and musicianship what makes this new album so great is it's soul and variety. The closer, 'My Arms' they feel like nothing is like nothing else the band have done, virtually every member of the band all harmonise together over a choppy, stomping beat with brilliant brass to boot.
It would be hard to label the band Indiepop any more, this is a whole new level, this is almost a soul record, it's all going on. File under Soul, file under Very good indeed.
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