Bluesy Brit rockers the Duke Spirit will return this Spring with their third album, Bruiser, and it finds the quintet sculpting their punishing guitar sound into more refined, even delicate shapes, as on the new song, “Villain.” Download it below!
Frontwoman Liela Moss tells SPIN the song was born from a day spent alone in front of her piano. It begins with just her raspy voice, a few wispy tinkles on the keys, and corker of a first line — “Each round is a new start, don’t miss my favorite part” — that mirrored her approach to writing for Bruiser.
“That opening line was me, talking to myself as I might talk to a friend, saying, this quiet moment, where there’s nothing in front of you, is one of the best moments of it all, when you’re actually creating something,” she explains.
Lyrically, the song, like most of the new album (which was written and recorded in both London and Los Angeles) finds Moss shifting away from uber-personal confessions. “This is the first time I sat and stared at an empty piano, thinking about the fact that I no longer wanted to be so inward looking,” she says. “I wanted to me more of a storyteller, be more aware of what I’m observing, and have it sound less like diary abstracts, which are a bit private.”
Bruiser offers a more refined version of the band’s skronky, aggressive rock’n’roll. “When we started this band, it was all about brute force and excitement, feeling this euphoric ferocity and trying to make it happen in a room,” says Moss. “Maybe before we were inarticulate but full of force, but now it’s time to play some more of the graceful things that might have been shelved before.”
And while the group got a boost from the fashion scene in 2009 when the late Alexander McQueen tapped Moss as the muse for his Target line, Moss says she’s not turning into a fashion-first artist. “I was always a tomboy in jeans,” she says. “I would hate a fluffed up, bullshit experience of performing in costume. Starting a new record, it had to be about the songs, and I haven’t really given anything else much thought.”