The Duke Spirit | Bruiser

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

dukespirit1

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.
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