The Spook School - Could It Be Different?

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2018-01-26
The Spook School - Could It Be Different?
The Spook School - Could It Be Different?

Forty or so years on, anything connected with punk rock is getting reassessment. These days, it is a far cry from all the flak that was thrown in the direction of such music in its late Seventies heyday. These days, it has even been called “the revolution against boredom that represented the last avant-garde movement of the 20th Century.”

Could well be. I kind of stick to a recent comment Chris Kraus made in his review on two new books that look at the punk scenes in London and New York in the Seventies that the (London) “book is also a homage to youth and lost possibilities.” I dare say that there actually lies the essence of Could It Be Different?, the third album by the Glasgow quartet The Spook School.

The band actually represent that more pop-oriented side of punk, or punk oriented side of pop, or whatever you would like to call it these days, trying to keep a constant balance between buzzing guitars and rushing rhythm section with melodious male/female harmonies. Some would say, Belle & Sebastian on an extra dose of adrenaline.

What is quite striking is that most of the time on Could It Be Different? The Spook School absolutely manage that, like in pop/punk gems that are “Less Than Perfect” and “I Only Dance When I Want To.” The formula gets its variation in tracks like “Bad Year,” “Body,” and “High School” (the one that gave The Spook School its name?), with the sound more inclining to either the pop or punk side of things. It is “Body,” the punkier tune though, that almost overstays its welcome.

But there isn’t much here that brings Could It Be Different? down as an album. Actually, it has an added dimension in the collaborative lyrics with Nye Todd, the vocalist taking the edge in the essential punk attitude of the opener “Still Alive” and his biting Brexit comment of “Bad Year.“ And what is particularly interesting, in all the expression of darkness and personal gloom, there’s always a positive, optimistic line that gives the songs a well-rounded edge.

It might not be a perfect album, but it is getting close. Very close. So let’s give them a cigar anyway.

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