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English Teacher ‘This Could Be Texas’ review: The bold arrival of a brilliant band

It's easy to pigeonhole them as the latest post-punk revivalists, but the debut from English Teacher shows they are a band with limitless potential and the ability to go anywhere.

4.0 rating

By Will Richards

English Teacher (Picture: Tatiana Pozuelo)

Post-punk has become a loaded term for bands, especially British ones — over the past five years. Ever since the explosion surrounding the Brixton Windmill scene that birthed Shame, Black Midi, Goat Girl, Dry Cleaning and more, the term has been lauded and derided in equal measure, as any ascendant scene tends to do. Leeds’ English Teacher have been tagged under the umbrella since their emergence in 2021, and while it’s been a fairly accurate description so far, their far-reaching and impressive debut album This Could Be Texas should ensure they won’t be purely remembered for this moment alone.

“I want this album to feel like you’ve gone to space, and it turns out it’s almost identical to Doncaster,” enigmatic vocalist Lily Fontaine said of the album, and while the record does indulge in ideas of mundanity, it’s also determined to break away from it. “I’m the world’s biggest paving slab / So watch your fucking feet!” she sing-speaks on the album’s best track, ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’, but what follows is a soaring chorus that lifts the music out of the doldrums and into a place that sounds nothing like Doncaster at all.

Backed by inventive, bright guitar music, Fontaine discusses ideas around identity (“When people ask where I’m from, I usually say I’m mixed race: half Yorkshire, half Lancashire,” she has joked) with seriousness but also levity. This moulding of different sounds and moods is also reflected in the music: after the solemn and surging ‘Broken Biscuits’, they move straight into the Smiths- esque sprightly indie-pop of ‘I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying’. Fontaine is equally magnetic on the acoustic slowie ‘Mastermind Specialism’, while debut single ‘R&B’ still sounds as fresh as ever as she laughs at assumptions made about her genre of choice based on her skin colour.

While ‘R&B’ represents the band’s post-punk roots, the most exciting moments of the album come when it pushes forwards into new sounds and moods. The excellent ‘The Best Tears of Your Life’ sees her vocals twisted and manipulated by subtle Auto-Tune as the band concoct a Radiohead- ish swirl of noise behind her, while closer ‘Albert Road’ is a gorgeous slow jam and an ode to her hometown.

This Could Be Texas presents an exciting new voice in a saturated scene, one they deserve to graduate from as a band with limitless potential. Across the album, English Teacher sing of home and of being stuck, but the glorious noise they create makes you believe they could go anywhere.