The Duke Spirit

The Duke Spirit rool, spirit, rollThe Duke Spirit are shameless thieves. This mini-album is barely 21 minutes long, yet the Londoners have still found time to rifle through the pockets of The Velvet Underground, Mazzy Star and PJ Harvey (to name just three) in search of the ultimate rock’n’roll fix.

People have served a month in Wandsworth clink for lesser crimes but, in the band’s defence, there’s not a nabbed riff here that doesn’t feel as alive as the day it was first dragged through an amp.

You see, singer Leile Moss and her band aren’t simply stealing from their heroes. They’re fucking the living hell out of them until they’re left breathless and painting in a heap of screaming guitar feedback.

Take opener ‘Red Weather‘ – it starts with a bassline so menacing even Carlos Intepol would need to change the bedsheets, before exploding into a lustful wail that makes Karen O sound like Ann Widdecombe. Just gulp at they was Moss contorts the line “Like a wild animal growls!” around her lungs until it emerges as a passion-crazed squeal that should only ever be heard post-watershed.

There’s nothing quite as unholy as that lurking anywhere else on this record – it’s very much still finding its feet – but there’s enough to ensure your ears get suitably seduced. ‘Salt The Stings‘ sounds like Mazzy Star being whipped into submission with a tambourine: ‘Drinking You In‘ is a filthy scream that forces an electric sanding device through The Kills’ brain stems.

By the time everything crumbles under the noise of what appears to be PJ Harvey raiding the Desert Sessions’ opium cupboard (‘Nine & Scramble’) it’s clear that The Duke Spirit have made an unpolished yet frequently thrilling debut: raw, wired and bursting with enough sexual energy to power Manhattan.

It places them alongside a growing line of incradible female-fronted rock’n’roll bands (The Kills, The Raveonettes, The Concretes) who know exactly whose back catalogues contain the most mind-altering rock’n’roll.

But best of all, it leaves you with a suggestive wink, teasing you with the through of what they could really do given more space. Sometimes, thieving really is believing.

© TIm Jonze NME October 25, 2003

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