Another joyous queer punk outing from The Spook School. Following their critically acclaimed debut, Try To Be Hopeful is a high-quality blend of lo-fi guitar crunch, sizzling pop melodies and intelligent lyrics about sexuality, identity and having a good time. Out on CD and vinyl LP from Fortuna POP!
8/10 Robin Staff review, 14 October 2015
You may or may not be aware that these lands are privy to a lot of really good pop slash folk slash orgcore -punk bands clamouring their way towards your heart, but if not, it doesn’t really matter: Martha exist, Joanna Gruesome exist, Sauna Youth exist, about two hundred other quite catchy, often likeminded bands do. It just so happens that the Spook School are from Edinburgh (up there somewhere ^) and make catchy songs laced with twee but carrying a good dose of venom: the sugar-rush chorus of the record’s opener suggests we “burn masculinity” over a simple, punched chord sequence, and is a very good time.
‘Try To Be Hopeful’ is one of those rather lovely pop-punk records that feels communal and generously involving: like Johnny Foreigner, the vocal duties are exchanged as and when, so everyone gets a chance to be wistful over a tidy riff (“Speak When You’re Spoken To”) or a Weezer-lite chaos jam (“Everybody Needs To Be In Love”). There’s a straightforward simplicity to these songs that brings to mind bands like Sauna Youth and Kinky, but the quartet will happily extend a song for a moment’s reflection, winding down the song to its barebones before climbing back into an anthemic climax.
Spook School create a full, exciting sound from relative sparsity, recalling the guitar pop of Mammoth Penguins but with the edges coloured in more. I would like to do emotive star-jumps to this record; I'm just waiting for all the right reasons to do them.
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