Spun: The Duke Spirit

By Peter Hemminger

Sometimes you can wear your influences on your sleeve, forego any desire to create something new, and just get by on sweat and swagger. In this Sense, The Duke Spirit’s Cuts Across the Land hits all the right marks–the detachment of the Velvet Underground and Nico, the swirling guitars of Sonic Youth, chugging rhythms by way of the Stooges and a touch of New Wave revivalism in vocalist Leila Moss’ Debbie Gibson sultriness. It’s textbook hipsterism, and damned if it doesn’t work.

Take “Darling, You’re Mean,” a halcyon haze of shoegaze blossoming into a solid rocker with Moss moaning “Ooh lord it’s coming back, Jesus Christ it’s coming back” as guitars drop in and out behind her. Or “Red Weather” and its Jesus and Mary Chain repetition. Behind it all is enough bluesy sexuality to elevate Cuts Across The Land above your typical spot-the-touchstones indie act.

The Duke Spirit haven’t crafted anything new, but that’s not the point. With Cuts Across The Land, they’ve made an album capable of pulling its own weight over the course of its 45 minutes. Sometimes, that’s enough.


Leave a comment