Since their first single, 2008's "All I Wanna Do," the School have been a band that indie pop fans can't help but love, with sticky-sweet, lush, and lovely songs about love and lost love, equal parts girl group and C-86, impeccably played by the band and sung perfectly by leader Liz Hunt. After two albums that won the hearts and minds of all but the coldest and cruelest indie kids, their third, 2015's Wasting Away and Wondering, is another beauty. Made up of bouncy Northern soul-inflected love songs that are designed to make feet happy, girl group-y love-lost songs made to bend hearts, and late-night ballads sure to break them all the way, Wasting was made by a band at the top of its game. Not a wasted note or a wrong foot forward, with a nonstop parade of potential singles, the album doesn't top their previous work as much as it adds another layer of goodness to the recipe. Hunt and her crew lay on the horn section a bit heavier this time, with songs like "Til You Belong to Me" and the "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love"-quoting title track reaching near Dexys-level excitement. The strings are more prominent too, giving songs like the weepy "Don't Worry Baby (I Don't Love You Any More)" an extra ounce of swoon. It's an assured and powerful sound that gives Hunt's vocals a strong foundation, even more than on previous albums. She responds by turning in a performance that's the equal of anything she's done yet, and there are a couple times when she even belts it out a little. One of those times is on the album highlight, "Do I Love You?," where the song, the arrangement, and the performance all come together in a big punch that equals their finest moments of the past ("Let It Slip," "Stop That Boy"). Another is on one of the album's few surprises, the almost noisy, guitar-led minor-key ballad "He's Gonna Break Your Heart One Day," which comes off like one of the saddest mascara-streaked songs the Shangri-Las ever did, only tougher. It's a nice addition to their repertoire and something they could explore more on the next album. Not that they need to change anything much, since Wasting Away and Wondering is another classic slice of indie pop. The School could keep releasing albums just like this forever and it would be just fine. Better than that, it would be simply lovely.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra