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Review: English Teacher Soar Beyond Modest Roots on Their Debut Full-Length ‘This Could Be Texas’

After meeting as Leeds students in 2018, English Teacher rapidly began a long streak of success with a major label signing, excellent 2022 debut EP ‘Polyawkward’, appearance as musical guests on none other than Jools Holland, and promotion of growing live efforts as ambassadors for independent venue week. Fortunately, amongst that hectic schedule which has had them criss-crossing the country, they’ve also managed to completely stick the landing with their first full-length effort, ‘This Could Be Texas’.

The record is wholeheartedly appealing while also being impossible to pin down, offering a disjointed but rich statement not exactly of intent but certainly of capabilities, beginnings and desires. Much like Squid, who made breakthrough achievements without compromising their artistic integrity, and Yard Act, known for their poetic prowess, English Teacher offer a fresh perspective that defies easy classification.

Although ‘R&B’ could have become a defining track for the band, it serves as just one of many touchpoints on a record that required meticulous craftsmanship but effortlessly engrosses the listener. ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’ features a recurring guitar riff that propels the song forward, culminating in an expansive chorus that captures the essence of chasing something grand that will forever remain out of reach; grandeur may evade the grasp of some, but English Teacher achieve it here.

English Teacher on the cover of Issue Forty-Seven. Order your copy here.

Consistently fluctuating scope is but one aspect of their dynamism, with ‘Mastermind Specialism’ specifically detailing their inability to select a single identity. Intimate but confused, the song is an epic, all-encompassing journey in itself as well as demonstrating the quartet’s consistent inconsistency. Lily Fontaine’s poignant delivery is, of course, at the forefront, but refined instrumental passages become a character of their own under the guidance of Marta Salgoni (Bjork, Bon Iver) who soaks the recordings in a slick but clean glaze.

Evolving past simple song structures, English Teacher demonstrate their ability to weave complex narratives; often critical of the world around them such as in groovy highlight ‘Nearly Daffodils’ and the ambitious ‘Not Everybody Goes To Space’, English Teacher address the brutal existence shared by many, telling listeners to deal with it but always with a tongue in cheek. Even when frustrations are laid bare, as in ‘I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying’, infectious riffs help both the artist and audience shake off their woes.

English Teacher may be grounded in reality, but ‘This Could Be Texas’ proves that they have the vision and talent to transcend those limitations. By the closing notes of ‘Albert Road’, the four-piece are sonically soaring far beyond their modest DIY roots without losing any of the texture that gritty rise instilled in them.  “The world around us never showed / how loving can be fun” admits Fontaine, but English Teacher proves that it can be, showcasing their leanings to create immersive art that continues to charm and captivate.

‘This Could Be Texas’ is out 12.4.24 via Island Records. Pre order here.

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