Soot Sprite have been something of a regular feature on this site since back in 2019 when they released their debut EP, Sharp Tongue, which was my favourite release of that year. Since that time, the band have found their touring plans fairly up in the air, which has allowed them time to focus instead on their next musical step, which they revealed last week in the shape of their new EP, Poltergeists, out now via Specialist Subject Records.
Poltergeists is a superb step forward for Soot Sprite, expanding on the charms of Sharp Tongue without ever forgetting what was so exciting about that record in the first place. The record was largely written and recorded during the UK-wide lockdown and finds vocalist Elise Cook questioning relationships, and ultimately herself, as she explains it is ultimately a record about, “being able to accept myself, move on, and celebrate the accomplishments I’d made in my life regardless of others“. The progress in Soot Sprite’s songwriting is evident from the moment the opening track Assisted Thrills rolls in, with its loose emo-punk influenced guitars and rolling drums forming a perfect backdrop to Elise’s poised vocal, as she ruminates on an unclear relationship, “I thought this tangle was supposed to be fun, now I’m knotted up with the words you didn’t mean”. Elsewhere Accolade brings to mind the same stadium-sized emotions that put The Joy Formidable on the musical map, while recent single Alone Not Lonely is a dense fog of thrashing guitars, pounding drums and a lyrical reminiscence on reclaiming your own story, “don’t need someone else to feel whole, I can’t be yours cause I love being alone”. Probably the record’s biggest departure is the title track, Poltergeists, which begins life as a fuzzy acoustic number, before exploding into a shoegaze supernova as Elise seeks to separate the spectres of the past from the ghouls inside her own head. While Poltergeists is a record unafraid of acknowledging the past, at its heart it is a record that is laced with hopefulness, casting off what was to embrace the future available to us once we learn to feel comfortable in our own skin. This is the sound of a very special band not just living up to all expectations but soaring way beyond them.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Soot Sprite?
We’re a three piece from Exeter, I always find genres hard to pin down but we’ve been described as post-emo/ shoegaze, which I think works!
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I can remember being so nervous I couldn’t make chord shapes on the fretboard properly, couldn’t even look up from my guitar. But also my friends giving me the “You’re ACTUALLY good” line which was very welcome, even if a little backhanded! I kept my three guitar pedals in a tote bag, they definitely don’t fit in there anymore.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I actually do illustration too! Designed all our recent merch and tour posters and more recently have started learning to animate which is really fun. But still nothing is as enjoyable as music for me, there’s no bigger thrill or gamble when putting it out in the world. And there’s big reward in that vulnerability I think. Music has taken me to different countries and that’s something I don’t think I could experience with another art form.
FTR: What can people expect from the Soot Sprite live show?
We’ve always been told we’re much heavier live, so there’s definitely that – coupled with some very shite stage patter. We’re always gonna play like it’s the most important show we’ve ever done and we’re always gonna try and create a warm and friendly space. I can assure you getting to play shows is always the most fun I’ll ever have, and I hope it shows!
FTR: What’s next Soot Sprite?
I’ve had a pretty turbulent year of moving a lot so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into more writing now that I’m more settled. We’re gonna tour this record a whole bunch, which after all this time away brings me more joy than I can really articulate! Definitely thinking about more international shows again as well. I’m just excited to see where this little band from Devon can go!
They Listen To…
Weakened Friends – Quitter
Hovvdy – Blindsided
Snail Mail – Valentine
Sam Fender – Get You Down
Bartees Strange – Weights