“Vulnerable but Resilient”: Exeter’s Soot Sprite Dive into Their Honest & Urgent ‘Poltergeists’ EP

Soot Sprite © 2021
Soot Sprite © 2021
An honest and urgent upheaval of radiant, dreamy grunge and indie rock, Soot Sprite’s ‘Poltergeists’ EP is an immersive soundtrack to intimate reflection and isolation.
Stream: “Assisted Thrills” – Soot Sprite

These two years have given us an unprecedented amount of alone time with which to dwell on things from our past, present, and potential future. Where have we been, and where are we going? Who have we been, and who do we want to be? What do we cherish most, and how have we been spending our precious time?

An honest and urgent upheaval of radiant, dreamy indie rock, Soot Sprite’s new Poltergeists EP is an immersive soundtrack to (and the result of) intimate reflection and isolation: To moments where we can’t connect outward, so we connect inward instead – diving deeper into ourselves, our relationships and outlooks, where we’re heading, and what we want in this world.

Poltergeists - Soot Sprite
Poltergeists – Soot Sprite
You speak the words but they catch on your tongue
And I thought this tangle was supposed to be fun
Now I’m knotted up with the words you didn’t mean
Loosened your lid so you could blow off some steam
If I’m assisted Thrills why do you think of me still
If I’m assisted Thrills does my voice give you the chills
You throw away baby have you thought of me lately
You throw away baby now it feels like you hate me

Released October 29, 2021 via Specialist Subject Records, Soot Sprite’s Poltergeists is heavy and hard-hitting, yet sweetly cathartic as well. The follow-up to 2019’s sophomore EP Sharp Tongue finds the Exeter, UK-based trio led by Elise Cook sounding richer, tighter, and more confident than ever before in their emotion-laden, dream pop-esque blend of grunge and shoegaze music. Together with drummer Tom Gilbert and bassist Sean Mariner, Cook uses Poltergeists‘ six songs to plunge into the depths of her soul.

Soot Sprite © 2021
Soot Sprite © 2021

“I started writing these songs around the time when we started touring for the first time in winter of 2019,” Cook tells Atwood Magazine. “I was going through a turbulent relationship that ended right before the lockdown hit and the songs are all me dealing with the fallout, all the red flags I had missed and finally saw with total clarity when I came to realise that I was enough.”

“It was about my turbulent relationships with others and how it affected my relationship with myself, and eventually when they broke down; just being able to accept myself, move on, and celebrate the accomplishments I’d made in my life regardless of others. It’s also about how those accomplishments ultimately haunted me during lockdown. I was so fortunate when we did go into lockdown that I lived with our drummer Tom, who had just built a new studio in the garden. So we just started putting tracks down. Tom now records a lot of bands under No Luck Audio!”

Pastel shades in the early heat of may
But all I see is grey
Monochrome scenes feels like it’s all through a screen
But who am I to say what’s real
Is something wrong with me
Rings like a silent scream
My sadness is compiling
It’s summer and I don’t feel like smiling
The long days shouldn’t feel this bleak
But it feels like I’m on a losing streak
The smell of sunscreen and salty air
I feel nothing and I don’t care

Growing out of a “one-woman lo-fi bedroom pop project” (as they describe it), Soot Sprite’s new music is a true band effort that finds the trio acting as a singular unit, with each musician making the most out of 21 minutes’ time.

“Before the pandemic we had planned to start putting together an album, but when we were unable to all be together and write as a group it was quite difficult to orchestrate… Eventually when we looked at the tracks we had, we realised that it looked like something complete. So we called it an EP, rather than stretching it out for the sake of it. Something we had never done before was collaborate with musicians outside of the band, but I really envisioned horns on this record so we had Danny Lester put down trumpets over two of the tracks and Tom Stevens sent us some beautiful field recordings to use at the end of ‘Poltergeists.’ They add so much to the record and I’m so excited to see what we can do with the next one!”

Cook explains how the EP’s name itself conjures up the spirit (and spirits, pun intended) of the period in which these songs were made: A time of intense introspection and space with one’s own thoughts. “The title track ‘Poltergeists’ refers to seeing and reliving all the memories of the lives we used to live before the pandemic,” she notes, “and going through the deep dives in memories it felt like it encapsulated the record in looking back on past relationships like old ghosts. That kind of stuff felt inescapable last year.”

Soot Sprite © 2021
Soot Sprite © 2021

I think I love being alone
I think that comes with being grown
I’m not rushing back again
Not falling in again
Don’t have to glue myself to me phone
Only worry about my own
I’m not rushing back again
Not falling in again
Look at everything I’ve done for myself
Taking care of my mental health
Ticking off lifetime goals
Don’t need someone else to feel whole
I can’t be yours cause I love being alone

For Cook, this record is a definitive exemplar of Soot Sprite’s artistry and identity – not to mention the visceral, vulnerable product of her raw reeling.

“I feel like lyrically, it’s still coming from a very urgent and honest place, I’ve always written very impulsively and don’t edit much outside of the moment,” she says. “I also think our sound has really fleshed out on this release, it definitely feels like our most dynamic record yet and it’s pushed all three of us as musicians, it’s certainly been the most challenging thing I’ve done vocally! But the response so far has been so positive that I’m feeling way more confident about those choices we made.”

From the stunning hard rock and intimate relationship analysis of opener “Assisted Thrills” to the soaring unburdening of closer “Poltergeists,” Soot Sprite ensure a cathartic, breathtaking journey for all. Highlights beyond the bookends include “It’s Summer and I Don’t Feel Like Smiling,” a confessional diary-like exploration of depression, and “Alone, Not Lonely,” a fiery anthemic embrace of solitude and oneself.

“I feel like the title track earns a top spot because it was so challenging to flesh out,” Cook says on the topic of favorites. “And it came at one of those points where I’d convinced myself I was probably never going to write anything again, which happens all too often! When I listen to it, I can feel how much this band has matured, and I feel so proud of how far we’ve come.”

Cook also notes that “Poltergeists” houses some of her favorite lyrics on the EP.  “I think ‘an orchestra of grinding teeth will sound the alarms’ was one I was most proud of; I’ve always really loved dark and visual songwriting and when I wrote that one, I felt like I hit my stride. It’s digging into those anxious and restless nights where you wake up with a clenched jaw, but knowing that everyone was feeling it.”

I’ll shove my head into a speaker
Like Sylvia Plath but monumentally weaker
Wish I could sleep
Wish I could do anything apart from creep around this house
There’s nothing I can do about it
We haunt the rooms we live in
If you can call this living
Poltergeists of past lives
Flash before our eyes
Faster than bolts of lightning
Can’t stand the heat at night
Feels like my brain just runs on spite these days
Can’t even dream
What’s there to look ahead to with a future cloaked in cloud
Guess I’ll drown in my doubts now
We haunt the rooms we live in
If you can call this living
Poltergeists of past lives
Flash before our eyes
Faster than bolts of lightning
Dig my nails out of my palms
An orchestra of grinding teeth will sound the alarms
Dig my nails out of my oaks
An orchestra of grinding teeth will sound the alarms

Soot Sprite © 2021
Soot Sprite © 2021

Whether or not poltergeists of past lives also flash before your eyes faster than bolts of lightning, Soot Sprite’s third EP promises to quell the nerves and feed the soul – especially if that soul is hungry for some weighted emotional release. Unfiltered and achingly sincere, Poltergeists immerses the ears, the head, and the heart.

And for what it’s worth, we’ll have the line, “It’s summer and I don’t feel like smiling” in our heads all winter long.

“I hope that people sing it in their cars, or listen introspectively and question relationships that don’t serve them,” Cook shares. “This record listens like a full chronological journey for me and I just hope that if anyone relates to it then they can feel less alone. For me it helped me see red flags and express myself when the world had gone to shit.”

Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Soot Sprite’s Poltergeists EP with Atwood Magazine as Elise Cook goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s third EP!

Poltergeists is out now on Specialist Subject Records.

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:: stream/purchase Poltergeists here ::
Stream: ‘Poltergeists’ – Soot Sprite

:: Inside Poltergeists ::

Poltergeists - Soot Sprite

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Assisted Thrills

It’s about entering a relationship with someone that doesn’t care about you and about not having the experience to realise that your self-worth doesn’t revolve around how others treat you, and all the anxiety and crippling self-doubt those relationships can bring you.


This song was written about that gooey teenage feeling you get when you meet someone new, and how the excitement of that can make you miss all the red flags. That all-consuming feeling can make you lose focus on everything except making that person want you more.

It’s Summer and I Don’t Feel Like Smiling

It’s about that stage in recognising your mental health stretches beyond SAD, and the dread and depression we all experienced during the pandemic. Although it was mostly written the previous year, it all came together in that weird collective mental state of 2020 (and 2021).

Night Thirst

I wrote this towards the end of a relationship just before the first lockdown, and how it made me feel like the problem was with myself and my own baggage and how I felt it would be difficult for someone to love me. I blamed myself and not my emotionally manipulative partner. And it made me feel incredibly alone.

Alone But Not Lonely

This was one of those epiphany moments, where I realised that alone I was not just okay but I was thriving, and it wasn’t down to anyone else except myself. It was that realisation of self-love and owning my accomplishments in life and came out in this form of pure joy that I needed to put into song.


This was maybe that point we all reached during the lockdown where no one was themselves anymore and every day just felt the same, and looking at the walls and reminders on social media of the life I was living up until before that point, and how it felt like being haunted by a life I wasn’t sure we would be able to return to.

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:: stream/purchase Poltergeists here ::

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Poltergeists - Soot Sprite

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