How do you follow up one of the best shoegaze records of 2016? Well, if you’re the Duke Spirit, you do it by releasing a deeply introspective record called Sky Is Mine, which keeps some of the shoegaze elements of Kin, but also ups the dream-pop. Lead singer Liela Moss was pregnant during the recording of Sky Is Mine, and she’s admitted in interviews that carrying a new life definitely influenced her songwriting for this record.
It begins with “Magenta,” a one-two punch of fuzzed out guitars and Moss’ echoing siren-like vocals. “Who knows where the heart goes?” she asks, wondering how far love can reach when one is separated from a lover. “Bones of Proof” is proof that Ms. Moss is one of the best vocalists of her generation. She has a way of making a song sexy, sad, and slightly scary all at the same time. “Go now and seek the truth, you’ll know it when the bones of proof press against your body warm, the skin, the form, the idea born,” she sings, and you can’t help but think she wrote those lyrics while pregnant. The guitar in this is like a gentle buzzsaw. I know that’s an odd description, but you’ll understand once you hear it.
“See Power” moves from dream-pop verses to bold shoegaze choruses and back again like, well, waves of the sea. The heavy bass of “In Breath” mixes with ghostly guitars and hints of Celtic magic. “Houses” has Moss’ reverbed vocals bouncing off each other as the band churns out a solid shoegaze groove behind her. “How Could, How Come” is the stuff of dream-pop dreams and possibly a lost Cowboy Junkies track.
“Yo Yo” has wicked beats and sneaky, tricky guitars throughout it as Moss sings about (in my opinion, at least) staying in the present despite outside forces constantly pulling us back and forth. “The Contaminant” is textbook shoegaze, and the closer, “Broken Dreams,” wraps around you like a warm fog with Moss’ lyrics about peaceful patience and hypnotizing percussion.
This album doesn’t rock as hard as previous Duke Spirit albums like Neptune or Kin, but that’s okay. It’s the band’s further exploration of dreamscapes. It’s ideal for wandering, sitting, and looking up at the night sky, which is mine, theirs, yours, and ours.
Keep your mind open.
[Who knows where the subscription box is? You do. It’s to your left.]