(Digitally out now)
I try to hold off on the standard move to praise the vocalist because it always feels like a reverse-diss of the other band members. It's just something I'm aware of--especially with women as the front-man--and I don't want to encourage a No Doubt kind of separation where everyone knows the singer's name and wonders why she doesn't just go on her own and then she does... but it's worth noting The Duke Spirit's Liela Moss' work to add another strange accent to the wonderful world of rock singing. Part Nico, part drawl... it's the kind of inflection that only seems to exist in rock music, belonging everywhere yet not tied to one particular location. What's more, it blends perfectly with the band's sound and this is where I get to compliment the band as a whole. The power of a band working as a thriving organism cannot be overstated and it's something The Duke Spirit has mastered.
Fuzzy guitars, atmospheric crooning and organic-yet-tight song constructions are the keys to Neptune, the second full album from this London quintet, and their future looks very promising. I can't tell if I'm just pre-programmed to like this kind of music, but I also don't care. Any band that can meld the work of Bjork, Soundgarden, harmonicas and a dash of 70's glam should find encouragement from more people than myself. The first six songs find the band transitioning--not switching--styles to make a grand exploration of their own particular voice. Songs sound distinct from one another; yet definitively belong to Duke Spirit. It's all got fuzzy guitars in there somewhere, but the Spirit shrewdly chooses when to implement them. A track like "This Ship Was Built To Last" needs many of them, and the heavier the better. "Wooden Heart" sounds perfectly suited for the Bronze, while "The Step and The Walk" does so much with so little it's very nearly cheating. By embracing the power of the group, the songs of Duke Spirit are the kind of sad that is thrilling to hear.
Not every song is a treasure, but the power of their numbers raises the album to the sky. On a track like "My Sunken Treasure," you can almost feel all five of the band members collectively taking your ears to the edge of a cliff and shoving them over. It's exciting. The Duke Spirit has planted their flag in the wide-open spaces of your loudest stereo speakers. Join them, won't you?
"The Step And The Walk"