English Teacher

This Could Be Texas (Island Records)

Contact Jessica Linker, Jaycee Rockhold about English Teacher

Leeds, UK-based English Teacher – comprised of Lily Fontaine (vocals, rhythm guitar, synth), Douglas Frost (drums, piano, vocals), Nicholas Eden (bass) and Lewis Whiting (lead guitar) –  is “a vital voice from the heart of UK guitar music” (NME). Last month the band announced their highly-anticipated debut album, This Could Be Texas, will be released April 12th via Island Records, and today, they present an intoxicating new single/video, “R&B.”


Produced and mixed by Marta Salogni (black midi, Depeche Mode, Björk), This Could Be Texas bursts with intricate, math-rock leanings and meticulously crafted melodies with lyrics that explore far-ranging themes including social issues, struggling to belong, mental health and science fiction. As NME praised in their recent cover story, their new music is a “bold, rhythmic, revamp,” drawing on influences as varied as “psychedelia to wobbly art punk.” From their earliest days practicing in basements, to gigging at grassroots venues and more, This Could Be Texas provides a fitting reflection of English Teacher’s work to date.


“We’ve not stopped for almost a decade. It’s been brilliant and exhausting in equal parts,” Fontaine says, reflecting on the band’s ascent over the last five years. The four began writing music together after meeting while students at Leeds Conservatoire. Early support from local UK and Leeds organizations who regularly played their earliest offerings helped lead to a pivotal signing with indie label Nice Swan Records. Their much-lauded debut EP, Polyawkward, followed in 2022, providing further insight into the diverse sonic world and uniquely self-made aesthetic of the band. Since then, English Teacher has toured with Parquet Courts and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, sold out all of their UK and EU headline dates as well as their debut New York City show at Elsewhere in Brooklyn, and played Later . . . with Jools Holland. They’ve graced the cover of the NME, made TIME’s Top 10 Best Songs of 2023, and have been recognized by the likes of the New York Times, The Guardian, FADER, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, and NYLON. They’ve acted as ambassadors for Independent Venue Week, nodding to the grassroots venues where they learned their crafts, and been vocal advocates for regional news sources (Fontaine has written pieces for both NME and DIY on these issues).


Debut album, This Could Be Texas, represents the four songwriters’ sonic journeys thus far with some tracks written at university in 2016-2019’s post-nest-fleeing nostalgia and others in the weeks before entering the studio. “Sonically and lyrically, the album is about not being quite like one thing, nor quite like another, existing in that space between being assigned a choice and completing it where anything is possible,” comments Fontaine. Many of her lyrics are observational as she takes snippets of daily life and finds the bigger meanings in them. On several songs, she reflects on growing up as a mixed-race individual in a place “where many didn’t have understanding or even tolerance towards people who are different,” which only became more evident as she gained adulthood in the era of the Brexit referendum. Literary references abound; as well as George Orwell, there are nods to William Wordsworth Anthony Burgess, Charlotte Brontë and Greek literature.


Over a revolving bassline and some sort of prog-esque polyrhythmic post-chorus, the “brooding narrative” of the reworked “R&B” grapples with the unfair judgements placed on Fontaine as a frontwoman of color. “The shivering truth of the mattеr is so easy to see:/If I have stuff to write, thеn why don’t I just write it for me?/Despite appearances, I haven’t got the voice for R&B,” she sings about the prejudices she’s faced in the music industry and beyond. “There’s a lot of judgment that I had early on. Being a woman of color fronting a band shouldn’t even be a thing to talk about; we need to just get on with it – only then will the narrative around that change.”


Commenting ahead of the single’s arrival, frontwoman Lily Fontaine explained: “When I was with him I had writer’s block and to add insult to irony, the only idea I had was for an R&B top line – the genre people always assumed I worked in. As soon as he ended it, I converted that top line into the lyrics and riff for ‘R&B’, and took it to my three best mates. Putting the effort that you could potentially put into a partner, back into yourself and your career, is cool and sexy and gets you signed to Island Records and writing press quotes in a tour van in Holland and you get to meet Jools Holland. Thanks lad.”


Of the video directed by Sarah Oglesby and Sodium Films, the group revealed: “This is an ode to 2021’s original ‘R&B’ video and to Douglas snogging himself. It’s an ode to self-love and an ode to not putting up with bullshit. It’s an ode to the chaos of the calm and the calm of the chaos. It’s an ode to the greatest TV show of all time – The Shivering Truth. Here’s to theatre and here’s to behind the scenes. We fight. We break up. We kiss. We make up.”


After a string of previously-released singles – “Albert Road,” “World’s Biggest Paving Slab,” “Mastermind Speciliam,” and “Nearly Daffodils,” (the latter three all A-listed on BBC 6 Music), English Teacher continue to rise as their biting social commentary and unique musical soundscapes position them as influential figures within the emerging indie landscape. Best said by The Sunday Times, English Teacher is taking “their place in the front rank of great new British bands.” There will be news regarding North American tour dates coming next week.


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