July 25, 2016

LP: Night School - Blush

Find yourself lovestruck with Night School's Blush.

Following a break-up, the laws of gravity cease to apply. Your head hangs heavy, weighed down by one thousand "what-ifs," unanswerable questions whose solutions seem to only be more thoughts. For Oakland three-piece Night School, this underlying ache is audible throughout their debut full-length, Blush, which finds the band preoccupied by head-over-heels crushes that track the highs and lows of love. On the album’s penultimate track, “Lost,” vocalist Alexandra Morte ruminates on the dissolution of a relationship as she sings, “Lost my very best friend / Now I’m crying on my bed / I can’t fall asleep / Thinking about you.” To paraphrase that great doo-wop song: tears on her pillow, pain in her heart, Morte’s world has been rocked. Whom do you turn to when your best friend is also the one responsible for your dejected state? Questions come easier than answers when matters of the heart are involved. 

The sadness that permeates Night School’s songs is embedded there through the influence of ‘60s girl groups like The Shirelles, The Ronettes, The Crystals, and The Shangri-las. The band expands on the teenage tragedy narrative of songs such as “Leader of the Pack” and Phil Spector’s "Wall of Sound" production style. The Beach Boys are another act cited by the band as an influence, which is less surprising when considering the fact that Phil Spector was himself a direct antecedent of Brian Wilson’s work. Night School’s melancholy streak and harmony lines can be traced back to the best Beach Boys’ ballads, but the band also takes cues from the more jubilant numbers of the Wilson/ Love songbook — for every “Kiss Me, Baby” there’s a “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to offer a balance. 

One of Blush’s more uplifting moments comes via “Airplanes.” Over a slinking lead guitar line and a shuffling drumbeat courtesy of Baylie Arin, Morte describes being smitten by a long-distance lover. “I like your shoes just because they’re yours / And the way you close the door / Next to you I could smile all day / And hang on every word you say,” Morte sings. Fatuous infatuations are the most wonderful part of a burgeoning relationship. Falling in love with every little thing about your partner is par for the course. Time is the only way to test whether the love will still be there months later. You may become lovestruck by Night School, but you won’t want to graduate anytime soon, and it will surely be a lasting affair.


Listen to Night School on bandcamp

Alex Wexelman is a professional music writer and procrastinator. His most prized possession is a book he got hand-signed by Patti Smith. Like his tweets here.