17 February, 2008

Gods of the Sea and the Sky

Neptune is a planet, a Roman deity, and an album by the Duke Spirit. If you guessed that I'm most excited about the last of these three Neptunes, then you'd be correct. The Duke Spirit make noisy rock from across the pond, and Neptune is an album to make some noise about.

"I Do Believe" introduces the album with the warbled mantra: "I do believe in something you know..." It sounds like it could have been recorded underwater or out in space. The first real song, "Send A Little Love Token", jangles at high-speed while lead-singer Leila Moss growls about a relationship where she feels unappreciated and needs a simple sign of affection. "The Step and the Walk" (video below) is a little marching tune that's both spunky and dark. "Dog Roses" rumbles along while Leila croons again about disinterested boys, broken hearts, and girls too independent for their own good.

"Into the Fold" and "This Ship Was Built to Last" follow the same jamming pattern, with disorganized and distorted guitars and sulky-sweet lyrics, but "Wooden Heart" breaks the mold. This song is a slow duet where a male voice shadows Leila's, and where the sentiment is a hope for understanding rather than anger at being dismissed. There is genuine confusion and regret between these lovers, and on "Wooden Heart" you can feel their pain. This song is also the turning point in the album, where the songs move from sulky and heartbroken to energized and spurred on by heavy feelings. "My Sunken Treasure" is practically perky and also very spirited. The album finishes with the hopeful sighing goodbye of "Sovereign", which laments the transience of love even as Leila expresses her hopes for continued friendship. The album seems to be built around the roughness of life, but it's never about bitterness; instead, the Duke Spirit make Neptune an ode to life experiences: the good hand-in-hand with the bad.

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