Posts Tagged ‘Try To Be Hopeful’

Edinburgh quartet the Spook School take their name from another group of four, a late 19th Century sect of the Glasgow School of Art who were given the nickname after ghostly figures in their art work. It is an appropriate title for a theatrical indie pop band that embraces life’s misinterpretations and messiness, and their message has never been more apparent than on their sophomore record Try to Be Hopeful . 

Try to Be Hopeful finds the group writing much more explicitly about queerness and identity. As singer and guitarist Nye Todd explained, “A lot of the lyrics I wrote on our first record were about coming to terms with being trans, whereas on this one the songs are more about a feeling of ‘Yeah, this is an identity! This is GOOD!”

“This is GOOD” is the overwhelming attitude of the record, given the sense that all of the depicted experiences—whether body dysmorphia, gigantic crushes, or the realization that identity is bigger than a hexadecimal—contain the possibility to be validating or enriching. This is not to say that the tracks on Try to Be Hopeful are naively optimistic; instead, as the title insinuates, they attempt positivity with a grain of salt. However, there is still plenty of room for fear to sneak in, as expressed in the album’s eponymous track: “I’ve been waiting outside for what seems like years/ When I finally get inside I’ll give in to the fear/ Of finally having what I want, I’ll finally know/ If this really really will fix me/ If my problems will all sail away.”

“Burn Masculinity” defends the title’s proclamation with the rationale that those of a certain gender should recognize their inherent, systematic privilege because “what good has it ever done?” Meanwhile, the penultimate track “Binary” claims that humans are not computers and thusly should not be “limited to binary desires.” The journey from “Burn Masculinity” to “Binary” offers a literal marker of growth. While recording, Nye began taking testosterone treatment, and the change in his voice is evident over the course of 11 tracks.

Much of Try to Be Hopeful is spent digging into the complexities of self and society with a lens that is simultaneously critical, sensitive, and goofy. Perhaps this final descriptor is most crucial: the Spook School’s eagerness to grow is comforting and inclusive. Lyrically, the band appears more serious on Try to Be Hopeful, but their noise-pop jams remain as joyful as ever. Take “I Want to Kiss You”, a track celebrating, clearly, desire with an unrestrained joy. “I want to run my fingers through your hair/ And you would say you’ve never done this before/ With someone like me,” the four sing in unison. It’s great fun, but the “with someone like me” phrase is a constant reminder that there is great risk in vulnerability. Reminds me of the awesome Buzzcocks. Their music is upbeat and fun

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Edinburgh quartet the Spook School take their name from another group of four, a late 19th Century sect of the Glasgow School of Art who were given the nickname after the critically unpopular ghostly figures in their work. Later, their style helped inspire Art Nouveau, and thus the underdogs became the influencers. It is an appropriate title for a theatrical indie pop band that embraces life’s misinterpretations and messiness, and their message has never been more apparent than on their sophomore record Try to Be Hopeful the tracks are killers but lyrically August 17th & Everybody Needs To Be In Love feel like they were written for me! Speak When You’re Spoken To is an awesome song; really powerful! I bought the album only for Burn Masculinity and Binary. Because those are the only ones open to free streaming I expected the other songs to be average or sub-par. That was not the case. Speak When Spoken is easily my favourite song in the album, and it’s currently my favourite song that I listen to. It’s really powerful. track .Buy this album!

Although it was still a defining theme on their 2013 debut, Dress Up, Try to Be Hopeful finds the group writing much more explicitly about queerness and identity. As singer and guitarist Nye Todd explained in an interview, “A lot of the lyrics I wrote on our first record were about coming to terms with being trans, whereas on this one the songs are more about a feeling of ‘Yeah, this is an identity! This is GOOD!”

Edinburgh quartet The Spook School’s second album, Try To Be Hopeful, was probably one of the most triumphant albums of 2015. The album was recorded whilst guitarist Nye Todd was going through testosterone therapy, a crucial step in him embracing his trans-identity. It was a huge event in his life, and as such it in many ways shaped the formation of the albums own identity. It was an album of noisy, triumphant and tuneful pop-songs, that explored the topics of sexuality, identity, and most of all embracing the spirit of being yourself, no matter who that is.

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Burn Masculinity was about still having to challenge the casually sexist world of “lads” even though you were now, gender-speaking, one of them and Binary questioned why the world try’s to place us into their hexadecimal, black and white world of gender. Although it wasn’t all serious gender politics, I Want To Kiss You was about wanting to kiss people (obviously). It managed to tred the difficult line of tackling important issues, but with enough humour, attitude and hooks to make it just as enjoyable as it was important.