If a debut LP is an artist's introduction to the world and their sophomore release is their now or never moment, their third is their most cathartic: they've made it out, they're here. Glasgow, Scotland's indie-pop optimists The Spook School, despite personal and political obstacle, made it out, and their latest full-length Could It Be Different? is here. It's been a journey of self-discovery and feel-good realism; modern, dance-friendly indie-pop fueling the fun. They made a name for themselves for their exultant and empowering pop, and now, they've shown real growth in nuance.
Could It Be Different? is a collaborative album of personal storytelling that works through life's hardships with positivity – even at their most beaten down, The Spook School manage to find hope free of naivety. That's clear the second the album opens with "Still Alive," and its ascending chorus (and soon-to-be crowd favorite) of "Fuck You, I'm Still Alive," written by guitarist/vocalist Nye Todd after surviving an emotionally abusive relationship. The song avoids villainizing the past, instead, it celebrates the present and welcomes the unknown future.
The energy of working through the wicked exists all over Could It Be Different? "Bad Year" makes personal connections with universal ennui, the debilitating feeling of an atrocious political climate and the desire to do better. In "Body," the band struggles with image while coming to terms with the criticality of self-love. For Nye, it's a present journey after learning to embrace his trans identity. "Less Than Perfect" and closer "High School" recall youthful insecurity and the road to becoming comfortable with who you are.