The Duke Spirit | Bruiser

Shangri-La Music (2011) 
By REYAN ALI  |  January 17, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars


Don't be tricked by Bruiser's title. On album number three, the Duke Spirit are in no hurry to get into a scuffle. Instead, the London band try to leave their mark on you through mind games and subtle prods — a tactic that does little to help Bruiser be anything more than just an okay record. Its songs are lean, meticulously wrought things and, in varying doses, evoke blues, alt-country, Northern Soul, and languid indie rock. All the tasteful restraint is appreciated, but vagueness still clouds the songs, as if they're not quite fleshed-out. Occasionally, the group's airy gloom will turn earthy and tempestuous, leading to fine tracks like "De Lux" and "Northbound." Liela Moss's smoky vocals are the record's most reliable element, and she matches the instrumental ebb and flow with style. Unfortunately, her lyrical material is passive-aggressive and overuses go-to words like "love" and "fire" to bland effect. Absorbing Bruiser is akin to taking a long walk on a chilly, morose fall evening: you use the quiet to contemplate all your inadequacies and grievances, but none of those thoughts stick with you once the trip is over.
Related: Trans Am | What Day Is It Tonight? Trans Am Live, 1993 - 2008, Various Artists | Where the Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965 - 1968, Various Artists | Nippon Girls: Japanese Pop, Beat & Bossa Nova 1966–1970, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, CD reviews, The Duke Spirit,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
    In the arena of charming and entertaining indie-music figures, Marnie Stern stands unopposed.
  •   NO REST FOR BLACKBIRD BLACKBIRD  |  March 13, 2013
    Blackbird Blackbird's 2012 EP Boracay Planet takes its name from two sources: Boracay — a beach-filled, postcard-perfect island in the Philippines — and a dream Mikey Maramag had about the tourist trap, despite never having visited.
  •   WILD BELLE PUSH MAGICAL BUTTONS  |  February 11, 2013
    Wild Belle's multi-ethnic allegiances — Afropop, reggae, and rocksteady — fuse into American indie-pop and classic rock. Results are, at varying times, tropical, tepid, and tempestuous.
  •   THE LUMINEERS AIM FOR THE RAFTERS  |  February 01, 2013
    Jeremiah Fraites isn't famous — at least not yet. The drummer of the Lumineers, the folk trio who experienced an outrageously fruitful 2012, is talking to me two days before appearing on the January 19 Saturday Night Live, but he doesn't sound convinced that his band have crossed the fame threshold.
  •   PHANTOM GLUE COME INTO FOCUS  |  January 23, 2013
    Variations of "nightmarish" and "psychedelic" come up repeatedly as Matt Oates describes his band's work — which makes sense, given that Phantom Glue trace their roots back to Slayer, the Jesus Lizard, and cult post-hardcore act KARP.

 See all articles by: REYAN ALI