The Duke Spirit's lead singer, Liela Moss, is an audacious howler and an alluring presence on the microphone. She deserves a place in the femme-vocal pantheon next to Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, all of whom have proved that women don't have to be objectified bombshells as long as they have the range (or, lacking that, the sheer nerve) to open up their throats and take a song where it needs to go. Moss handles this task with ease on the recently released Cuts Across the Land.
Musically speaking, the London-based quintet, filled out by guitarists Luke Ford and Dan Higgins, bassist Toby Butler and drummer Olly Betts, is one of the few bands nowadays that can wear its influences proudly on its sleeve, yet never compromise its own style. Yes, you'll think you're listening to My Bloody Valentine ("So Good to Hear"), Mazzy Star ("Hello to the Floor"), Evol-era Sonic Youth ("You Were Born Inside My Heart") or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ("Win Your Love"), but the quintet has a bold, inventive signature that envelopes a pacifying calmness with clamoring guitars and sneering choruses. After four years of praise in its native England, this band is well on its way to becoming huge in the States. Thank God. I'm tired of hearing whiny dudes all the time.