The School - Let It Slip
Bill Cummings 24/06/2008
Now that the sun has deemed to make its annual two day appearance, The School are hoping they will be the soundtrack to your fleeting British Summer days. An assorted beat combo from Cardiff led by vocalist Liz Hunt previously better known as a promoter and the keyboardist of the Loves (a mediocre jangle band consisting of over forty current and ex members). Signed to Spanish Label Elefant the home of Camera Obscura, unsurprisingly the School's brand of jangle pop is inflected with the same heartbroken swoon as their label mates, the double edged lyricisms of Belle and Sebastian, and the baby Spectorisms of producer Ian Catt (Saint Etienne). They've already released a couple of singles previous of which the chiming 'All I wanna do' with its walkingintheparkholdingyourgirlfriendshand, was the best.
Here they release their first four track EP, opener and lead off single Let it slip is the best thing here, a jaunty tuneful rhythm section that will have your head moving from side to side and reaching out to cuddle the person next to you, twinkling 60s production washes, and a breakdown of three part harmonies that's vaguely reminiscent of The Beach Boys (only not quite as good). A tale of unrequited love perhaps bourne of the indecision of a crumbling relationship, the specter of another woman as we all know three into two doesn't go, and you feel slightly sorry for the girl whhen she implores 'If you ever leave me/would you go straight to her/Or is it so easy living on your own without me baby?' you wished he'd put her out of her misery! Like all the best indie pop songs delightfully bittersweet melodies that conjure up a face of smiling joy that hides a heart full of tears...
Elsewhere though The School's shortcomings become more apparent, 'Shoulder's' bouncy twee guitars and brass are caressed by Liz's pleasantly comforting melody but it feels like a chorus you've heard on the radio a hundred times before: like a worn out pair of slippers rather than shiny new boots. Indeed Liz's slightly nasal live tone comes to the fore, through quite processed production only really throwing off the feeling of averageness with the spoken word segue at minute two. While 'I want you back' resembles a Camera Obscura bside, sweet, but slightly sickly, unrequited love, given a wistful voice, it's a tad predictable only arcing on a nice chorus and gracefull trumpets, if anything it sounds over produced and less successful than the opener. In fact it's quite disappointing that these two rather average tracks sandwich what is genuine quality. Because closer 'I don't believe in Love' is genuinely gorgeous: featuring from Rob aka The Voluntary Butler Scheme this gentle piano piece is a pleasing duet its the sound of Babybird gentle sidling up to Lauren Laverne on a park bench and crying on her shoulder.
The School have something, a way with a melody, an obvious appreciation of how to craft pop songs inflected with the spirit of the Motown girl groups, but while the current masters of this sound Lucky Soul are painting Technicolor masterpieces, they're still colouring in the gaps. Their deficiencies in sound and production are still being ironed out. But based on the promise of the two quality moments here, it may be worth watching this space.