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Could It Be Different? - The Spook School

Updated: Apr 6, 2018

Trans* and triumphant.

Written by Ida V. Eskamani

Brilliantly self-described as a “queer indie-pop punx” band from Edinburgh, Scotland The Spook School are trailblazers. Unafraid to be labeled as a “trans* band,” the foursome unapologetically deconstruct the gender binary and set toxic masculinity ablaze by the means of sincere lyrics, exhilarating arrangements, and earnest vocals.


The band’s 2018 release Could It Be Different? shifts gears from previous records; rather than queer theory, queer lives take center stage. The stories portrayed are intimate, vulnerable, and honest. Yet as tragic as the circumstances may be, the album emanates unabashed joy and genuine compassion. This is resiliency expressed in a record, and it is spectacular.


Could It Be Different? opens with an anthem for survivors. “Still Alive” foreshadows an abusive past, but embraces an exultant future. “Fuck you / I’m still alive / And I’m not goin’ anywhere / With you!” is a chorus designed for live shows and difficult days. This is the first of many cathartic lyrics featured on the album, each one perfectly harmonized and exceptionally uplifting.


A confident bass line and reassuring tone leads “Less Than Perfect.” The track demonstrates immense compassion, acknowledging perceived inadequacies with kindness: “It’s alright now / Not what you hoped / But that’s okay.” The warmth exuding from this track equates to a hug from your best friend. We should all strive to exhibit this same compassion for ourselves, and the souls we share this existence with.


“Keep In Touch” and “I Hope She Loves You” are love songs with contrasting circumstances. The former a love lost to long distance, the latter a love long lost. The validation of queer lives in “I Hope She Loves You” resonates deeply. “I Only Dance When I Want To” launches with kinetic energy. The dance floor equates to consent; by rejecting a dance, we reclaim our bodies.


Influenced by Brexit, “Bad Year” pairs pain with positivity. As if talking to an ever-positive friend, the lyrics gently asserts, “I admire your optimism, but sometimes I just need to feel it.” Though a simple concept, we seldom hear that it is okay to be sad. The permission granted by this song is powerful. In the Spook School’s quintessential form, the track concludes with assurance, determining “It's been a bad year / Tomorrow we'll wake and keep on going.” One thing is absolutely true: this band will never leave you behind.

The band’s 2018 release Could It Be Different? shifts gears from previous records; rather than queer theory, queer lives take center stage. The stories portrayed are intimate, vulnerable, and honest. Yet as tragic as the circumstances may be, the album emanates unabashed joy and genuine compassion. This is resiliency expressed in a record, and it is spectacular.

Similarly, “Body” synchronously generates tears and grins. This track is authentic and wonderfully affectionate. An electrifying opener precedes the prompt, posed without apprehension: “Do you like the way you look naked? / I don’t know if any of us do / I still hate my body / But I'm learning to love what it can do.” As “Body” proceeds, it becomes clear that this song exceeds all expectations. To steadfast guitar chords, there is much needed affirmation, “Other people seem so confident / I don’t know how they do it / You got a lot to be proud of / I’ve got a lot to be proud of.”


This band masterfully positions self-depreciation alongside self-love; empathy paired with sympathy. The song bridges to a darker place, addressing suicide with a steady kick-drum beat: “Are you okay now? / Do you feel alright / Why did you say / You want to die?” The Spook School take on this subject directly, dismantling stigmas with infinite compassion.


The album and the catalogue of authentic stories it portrays conclude with “High School,” a nostalgic track describing a life that could have been different, had the singer played sports in high school. From start to end, the authenticity of the trans* stories in this record are simply breathtaking.


Stylistically, Could It Be Different? rides the pendulum between pop-punk and indie-pop. It is the best kind of loud; backbeats that move your feet, killer guitar riffs, and melodies that reside in your mind. The vocals are diverse, as tender as they are angsty, and executed with intention. Resounding and enthusiastic, this album is a beautiful ruckus destined for the pit.


The Spook School would be perfectly justified if they were enraged and pessimistic. Queer lives are constantly under attack, with the trans* community disproportionately impacted by violence, discrimination, and socioeconomic disparities. Could It Be Different? address these injustices head on while radiating defiance, resilience, and compassion. It is quite extraordinary, and extraordinarily triumphant.

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Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.