CD Review: The Duke Spirit- Neptune

You Are Here records3/5 The Duke Spirit have been toiling away tirelessly in the three years since the release of their moody garage-rock debut Cuts Across The Land, touring unceasingly, raising their profile in indie rock circles to the point at which the follow up is hotly anticipated, even if it is unlikely to be setting the album charts alight. Neptune shares in parts the same rough, propulsive post-punk sound of Cuts Across The Land but it’s actually these tracks that hamper the album and the thoughtful, poppier songs that present a much more appealing sonic pallet in today’s post post-punk times. ‘Dog Roses’, with its skeletal piano riff and tumbling guitars, focuses on the futility of living in the past: ‘But memories/Well they’re not real/There’s nothing there’. The sweet, boy-girl heartbreak of ‘My Sunken Treasure’, replete with backing ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and echoing percussion, sounds remarkably like the girl groups of Phil Spector, but with enough individual flair not to sound like a weak impersonation. Unfortunately these tracks are outnumbered by more generic squally guitars and formulaic rhythms – mostly pretty forgettable. The almost title track, ‘Neptune’s Call’, is particularly uninspiring. On the positive side, there are a couple of other exceptions, most notably the bold, broody and defiant ‘This Ship Was Built To Last’ which is a highlight of the album. Starting with a ‘Dazed and Confused’ style trudge, it gradually morphs into anthemic territory, accompanied by lyrics reflecting the watery imagery of the whole album (ironic considering the album was recorded in the middle of the Californian desert.) The song ends with the full-bodied climax of wailing saxophone and dissonance. On the whole, however, Neptune remains more of a transitional record, a testing of the waters, and one that hopefully indicates less turbulent sailing in the future.