Alexandra Morte and Baylie Arin formed Night School in the spring of 2013, shortly after becoming friends over shared orange peels at the park. The two musicians quickly discovered that their songwriting styles complemented one another’s well, and they set out to together capture some of the magic of 1960s pop groups such as the Crystals, the Shangri-Las, and the Shirelles — but while using far more distortion and reverb. Night School finished recording their first EP, 2014’s Heart Beat, a year into the band’s formation, and shortly afterwards absorbed Baylie’s friend Cheyenne Avant to round out the project on bass.
Heart Beat came out in October of 2014, and a subsequent split EP with the Galway duo Dott entitled Carousel followed in April of 2015. Now after three years of writing and performing and gradually perfecting their sound, Night School are set to let loose their first full-length release Blush on June 17. The album is preceded by the single “Last Disaster,” a burbling slice of pristine fuzz-pop that makes remorse sound almost sweet, and tackles tragedy with their heads held high through the assertive declaration that “yesterday was the last disaster.”
The rest of the album follows the lead of “Last Disaster,” coloring solemn story lines in bright crayon. The music feels nostalgic, but not in a cloying “Look, I’m relating” way — it sounds like getting lost in a daydream. And while Night School’s memories aren’t usually happy endings, they are elevating in the same way replaying a bad experience in your head reminds you that you’re beyond the past.
Blush is a record about getting lost in your sensations. “City Kiss” is pure navel-gazing euphoria, zeroing in on the moment in a relationship when you feel at home in the heart of another, and where “covering my eyes with your face” feels as pure as watching the sunrise. On the other end of the spectrum is “Casanova,” the most directly bitter track on the album. Night School sing of the end of a relationship that should have come to a close much sooner, yet still drags on in the aftermath. “I don’t want to do this anymore,” Morte and Arin harmonize, but they are still conflicted in a fog of mixed emotion. “Maybe I shouldn’t like you so much…My heart is brittle and my head is hazy.”
In both cases, Night School are captivatingly earnest and reassuringly sincere. Perhaps the track that exemplifies this best is actually the one without any words. “Pink” closes the record with what sounds like a piano collapsing like a daffodil. It’s a small and gentle piece, and captures well the sense of romance that underlies Blush. That’s not to say the record is defined by relationships, but rather that Night School are an affectionate band — one that is equally devotional in the moment as they are longing once it has past. “Darling, I’m thinking about you,” they proclaim on “Hypnotized,” and whether that’s for a relationship that still exists or one that is now a memory, Night School remind you that something that was once sweet will continue to be so in your daydreams.