Pitchfork (Website) - "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."
Clash (magazine) - "Musically, they've always been purveyors of punk and the shambling indie pop aesthetic -- invoking the chaotic spirit of Buzzcocks, and the indelible, melodic hooks of The Shop Assistants -- but here they dissect gender issues, fidelity, and romantic grievances with more force and conviction."
Personnel: Nye Todd, Adam Todd (vocals, guitar); Anna Cory (vocals); Niall McCamley (drums).
Recording information: Soup Studio, London; Suburban Home Recordin Studio, Leeds.
The Spook School's second album, Try to Be Hopeful, is a bracing, bruising indie pop album with sharp hooks, no punches pulled, and enough passion to wipe out anyone looking for an anodyne listening experience. This is an album for people who like politics in their pop, thought behind the singalongs, and songs that don't hide anything. With songs that explore gender and sexuality very honestly and openly while still making the yearning and pain universal to anyone who ever had a heart, the album is honest and uplifting. Add to that an energy level that hovers a notch below frantic, vocals that are artless and honest, melodies that are hard to shake, and unvarnished production that makes it seem like the band is in the same room with you, and it's getting close to perfect pop. That's not all. It would be remiss not to mention the brilliant sound of the guitars. Nye and Adam Todd both get an amazingly tough sound, filling the speakers with a raw power and blown-out crunch that really help the songs land as hard as anvils. It still would have been a really good album without the guitars being as impressive as they are; with them it pushes over the top into greatness. Combining the personal and the political is tough, especially in the indie pop realm. In fact, very few bands have been able to do it with any amount of success. By making an album that succeeds as a meaningful statement and a brilliant pop record at the same time, the Spook School have done the near impossible on Try to Be Hopeful. ~ Tim Sendra