Could It Be Different? is the third album from Glasgwegian indie group The Spook School, and is due for release on 26th January via Alcopop! Records. Opening with the catchy new single Still Alive, the album promises to be a cheerful hit.
“‘Still Alive’ is about no longer being in an abusive relationship. My tendency was to blame myself for not seeing the signs or leaving sooner which wasn’t helpful or fair, so I wrote this song to try and force myself out of that mind-set. In a way it’s a pretty angry song, with that anger being directed at people that carry out abusive behaviours towards others. I think there’s a kind of pride in it as well though, recognition that you had the strength to get through a shitty situation and to do what you needed to do, and that you don’t need to feel shame.” – Vocalist Nye Todd
The chorus in particular, with the repetitive lyrics of ‘Fuck you I’m still alive’ will draw listeners in, regardless of the deeper meaning behind the words.
Following Still Alive is Best Of Intentions, another upbeat cheerful track with a catchy riff. The listener is reminded heavily of cheerful rock bands such as Buzzcocks. Directly contrasting with Best Of Intentions is the following track, Less Than Perfect, which is the first track with female vocalist and bassist Anna Cory leading the main vocals. The guitars use different effects and sound more modern and distinct in the mix than some of the analogue sounding overdrive effects on the first two tracks, which of course are deliberately used for this effect.
The first slower track comes in at the halfway point of the album, and is titled Bad Year. Despite the negative sounding title, the track is written in a major key, and reverts back to the cheerful overdrive effects used in Best Of Intentions. Bad Year leads into Alright quite nicely, although both songs are a little bland. However the listener is soon startled with the energetic introduction of I Only Dance When I Want To, which has a similar feel to it as Still Alive. This song is again led by Cory, and has a Letters To Cleo feel to it.
Body is a track that will strike a familiar chord with a lot of listeners who suffer with body image issues, and is a particularly therepeutic song for vocalist Todd, who is transgender. This will be partially the reason that The Spook School appeal to a large portion of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as their hopeful and upbeat music.
The final track, High School, is another slow track, sending the listener back to their own school days, perfectly capturing the feeling of nostalgia and ‘what if’. However the track never really builds up to anything, the vocals fading out and the instruments being brought into the mix more prominently before the final fade out, which is a disappointing ending to an album that inspires hopeful feelings in the listener.
Throughout Could It Be Different? the two vocalists always find a good balance without overpowering each other. Where one takes the lead in a song, the other provides a solid backing line of harmonies that add a nice touch to the songs without detracting from the main focus. Each track is relatively short (under four minutes, some even under three minutes) and contain clear sections. Every track would have a place an American high school film set in the 90s such as 10 Things I Hate About You.