London sleaze-rockers borrow from all the right places to whip up an electrifying debut

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The Duke Spirit : roll, Spirit, roll

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The Duke Spirit : roll, Spirit, roll

[a]The Duke Spirit[/a] are shameless thieves. This mini album is barely 21 minutes long and yet the London six-piece have still found time to rifle through the pockets of [a]Velvet Underground[/a], [a]Mazzy Star[/a] and [a]PJ Harvey[/a] (to name just three) in search of the ultimate rock’n’roll fix. People serve a month in Wandsworth clink for lesser crimes but, in the band’s defence, there’s not a nabbed riff present here that doesn’t feel as alive as the day it was first dragged through an amp.

You see, singer Liela 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 panting in a heap of screaming guitar feedback. Take opener ‘Red Weather’ – it starts with a bass line so menacing even Carlos [a]Interpol[/a] would need to change the bedsheets before exploding into lustful wail that makes Karen O sound like Anne Widdecombe. Just gulp at the way 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 [a]Mazzy Star[/a] being whipped into submission with a tambourine, whereas ‘Drinking You in’ is a filthy scream that forces an electric sanding device through [a]The Kills[/a] brain stems.

By the time everything crumbles under the noise of what appears to be [a]PJ Harvey[/a] raiding the Desert Sessions’ opium cupboard (‘Nine & Scramble’) it’s clear that [a]The Duke Spirit[/a] 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 incredible female-fronted

rock’n’roll bands ([a]The Kills[/a], the [a]The Raveonettes[/a], 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 thought of what’s they could really do given more space. Sometimes, thieving really is believing.

7


Tim Jonze


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