Album: The Duke Spirit

Cuts across the Land, LOOG/POLYDOR
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The Independent Culture

The Duke Spirit are an unusual beneficiary of the Britrock boom. They've toured with such bands as Razorlight, Kasabian and British Sea Power, despite having little in common with any of them. In their biog, they talk of providing "a refuge from that whole Blur revival thing", but when the refuge takes the form of fairly routine Goth-rock, you have to wonder if that's actually preferable. There are traces of Grace Slick in Liela Moss's vocals, while the band's sound is rooted in a chugging grind of scrubbed rhythm guitars, from which all traces of funk or soul are excised. The relentlessly plodding gait of "You Were Born inside My Heart" and "Darling, You're Mean" ("You're trying to hurt me/ But I won't let you go/ I'm so cheap") is accompanied by a ponderous foreboding, and "Win Your Love" sounds like a cross between The Stooges and Joy Division, with jagged slashes of guitar razoring its glum countenance. Other tracks derive a more individual character from idiosyncratic touches - the smears of slide guitar in "Bottom of the Sea", the shaker and tom-tom groove to "Love Is an Unfamiliar Name" - but the only time the band really lets rip is on "Fades the Sun", where keening guitars hurtle pell-mell down a dead-end street with all the panache of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades".

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