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The Duke Spirit Cuts Across The Land Review

Released 2005.  

BBC Review

They consistently produce achingly hip music while their natural poise gives you the...

Jack Smith 2005

Something separates The Duke Spirit from the crop of great British indie bands doing the rounds at the moment. Maybe it's the beautiful, Nico-esque singer, Leila Moss, who effortlessly looks like a bornrock temptress when, as far as she's concerned, is just playing in a band with some of her best mates.Maybe it's because they unfashionably buck the trend by sounding more like Exile-era Stones or a grimy Velvet Underground than a band from the early 80s. But what really separates them is that they consistently produce achingly hip music while their natural poise gives you the sneaking suspicion that they're not even trying.

Their influences are obvious (in fact they even list them all at their website in a 'Duke's Alphabet') the Stones, Sonic Youth and The Pixies all get a mention. Many comparisons are also sought with Moss' vocals, although she's generally placed in the heady company of Patti Smith and PJ Harvey.Capable of dealing snarling blows and delivering sweet mercy within a single breath, she is strident, self assured and utterly compelling.But not in a cocky way of course. Because after all, that just wouldn't be cool...

As for the songs, "Lion Rip" is the poppiest number, akin to Ash but with added drama, while the first verse of "Win Your Love" is a homage to PJ Harvey's 2004 single, "The Letter". However, there's plenty of evidence of the distinctive Spirit swagger. "Love Is An Unfamiliar Name" initially carries a deadpan statement over pounding drums then soars to a truly chaotic and breathless finale. "Darling You're Mean" is plaintive but then psychotic, like the band as a whole, it is somehow menacing and sensuous in equal measure.

Duke Spirit's appeal increases as each track portrays a band so inherently at ease with their music that you can't help but get drawn irresistibly in. Self proclaimed as 'the optimistic force in rock 'n' roll', they simply don't need affectations or devices to succeed. It might be hard to believe but godammit, this band are genuinely that cool.

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