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The Duke Spirit ‘The Kusama EP’

The Duke Spirit return with ‘The Kusama EP,’ three new songs from their forthcoming album ‘Bruiser,’ which will be released early this year.

The Duke Spirit seem to be one of those bands unable to sustain the initial level of excitement that surrounded them when they first popped up on the alternative radar. Their debut ‘Cut Across The Land’ caught us off guard with its gritty production and garage punk-rock attitude, but their follow up ‘Neptune’ didn’t fare quite as well in the charts – its fuller, cleaner sound displeasing fans of the rawer productions values of their debut, but at the same time failing to appeal to the mass indie market.

The focal point of this London based quintet has always been singer Liela Moss, and after becoming the unexpected darling of the alternative fashion scene (inspiring designers Philip Lim and the late Alexander McQueen, and appearing in publications Elle, Teen Vogue and WWD) she was in danger of overshadowing her male bandmates à la Hayley Williams of Paramore (ok, not quite to that degree). Such exposure meant that diehard rock’n’rollers were repelled by this feisty front-woman, whose talent and authenticity is undeniable.

So, what of this EP? First up is the single ‘Everybody’s Under Your Spell,’ a fine, upbeat single choice for such a band – brash and full of swagger. This is The Duke Spirit at their best, with Moss’s voice spitting a punk rock melody over a simple, dirty guitar riff. Next is ‘Victory,’ which is the sound of band maturing as songwriters – or at least attempting to mature – and aiming for a more mainstream indie sound. Slowing down the pace and toning down the attitude doesn’t always mean you’ll have a song that’s more commercially viable; often the song will just sound watered down, such is the case here. Perhaps the track could’ve been saved if the hook wasn’t quite so bland and forgettable. Now, the final track of this EP – the rock ballad ‘Northbound’ – is the biggest surprise. On the last two albums, the band’s attempts at slow numbers tended to be their weakest tracks, disrupting the consistency and flow of their releases. ‘Northbound,’ however, is a success – with a captivating groove, an experimental drum pattern, and fantastic guitar-work. Yet, although it’s the best track on this EP it sounds a little too much like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs b-side.

And there in lies the problem with this promising UK band – despite always sounding solid and full of energy their brand of bluesy garage rock doesn’t quite hold up against their contemporaries, and they have yet to successfully shake off the shackles of their obvious influences. An adequate EP for fans, but it seems as though their forthcoming album will see more of the same from Moss and co. – it’s hard to imagine them accumulating many new fans upon its release.

Originally published by Gigwise here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on February 3, 2011.

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