Review: Jack Foley
LONDON five-piece, The Duke Spirit, proudly consider themselves
to be born outsiders.
Inspired by the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab, as
well as the deep '60s soul of Irma Thomas and Sam Cooke, the band
claim to offer people 'a refuge from that whole Blur revival thing
that seems to be going on at the moment'.
Hence, their debut album, Cuts Across The Land, is a
dark and frequently malevolent record that has quickly drawn comparisons
with the likes of PJ Harvey and Patti Smith.
Fronted by the raw vocals of lead singer, Liela Moss, and the
gutsy, scuffed guitars of Luke Ford, the album is a jagged vision
of rock 'n' roll in its purest form.
Yet while the decision to move away from Britpop (or even post-punk)
is admirable, the album occasionally struggles to emerge from
the shadows of other, better acts in the genre.
PJ Harvey's Uh Huh Her
and The Kills' No Wow do
pretty much the same thing far better, although fans of both those
albums will probably welcome The Duke Spirit's offering with few
With this in mind, there are some really good moments, such as
the hurtful lament of Darling, You're Mean, which screams
of the anguish of a failed relationship, or the sprawling beauty
of Hello To The Floor, which features some great guitar
riffs and a haunting set of vocals.
It's the type of track you could listen to on repeat play, while
considering its insightful lyrics.
Bottom Of The Sea is another track that feels rife with
heartbreak, while Lovetones finds Moss' vocals at their
Former single, Love Is An Unfamiliar Name, is another
example of how good The Duke Spirit can be when they get it right,
but sadly the rest of the album cannot maintain such a consistency
It occasionally feels a little too foreboding and depressed for
its own good, while it's nowhere near as important as it aspires
Having taken a year to create, the album occasionally feels like
it may have had a troubled history (despite the presence of Flood
(U2, Depeche Mode) on producing duties.
As such, it's a fragmented listen. Great in places, but a little
too ordinary at others. A mixed bag, then.
Editor's note: For all Duke Spirit fans, the
band are releasing a free rarities album with the first 10,000
copies of Cuts Across The Land.
It's called Souvenirs, and features the following tracks:
Scratching Around (demo); So Good To Hear (demo); Patients (demo);
Wooden Heart (demo); The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (demo); Hello
To The Floor (Radio 1 Lamacq Live Session track); Lion Rip (Virgin
Razorcuts Session Track); Cuts Across The Land (XFM Session Track);
Win Your Love (Virgin Razorcuts Session Track); Dark Is Light
Enough (XFM Session Track). All tracks except Patients are previously
unreleased, and The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is a collaboration
with Duke Spirit pals, The Archie Bronson Outfit.
here to buy!