‘Dirty Glamour’ Is The Exciting Latest EP Release From DUKE KEATS

Published on 27 June 2023 at 17:51

Photo: Eule Photgraphy

Words: Max Bradfield


Duke Keats brought out his fantastic latest EP ‘Dirty Glamour’ back on the 9th of June. A four-track showing that hints at a slew of influences as well as an individual and vibrant sound palette, there’s all the good stuff in the Coventry man’s mix: art rock, neo psychedelia, noise rock, funk, jazz, and progressive rock. 


The EP is the culmination of a year of growth – of performing and honing crafts – and by simply improving through the art of live performance. This, in essence, is a really crucial aspect of the EP’s sound. ‘Dirty Glamour’ not only presents an intriguing array of characters, worlds and ethos – there’s this superb linear, live nature of sewing a consummate body of work together. Although, as a listener, you’re transported through different realms – the songs keep rolling with the luscious backing of the crowd’s welcoming ambience. ‘Dirty Glamour’ is a series of songs, proposed simply, for the living, breathing, live space. 


Admittedly, a lot of Keats’ greatest moments have fittingly come in the live form. He has supported brilliant acts like the late, great Her’s, Penelope Isles, The Kansas Smitty’s, Ynes and fellow-Cov band FEET. Whilst supporting Marker Starling, he performed on tour in Germany as a backing vocalist and even plied his trade as a session guitarist on multiple BBC Live Radio performances including BBC 4 and Marc Riley’s BBC 6 show. Live dynamism is clear with Keats, so what of the songs themselves? 


Well, they’re written around the seedy underbelly of the Hollywood circuit, the dirty and glamourous nature of fame and money. What do those at the ‘top’ do for that? The sacrifices and changes all in the name of celebrity. Keats has always had a self-professed fascination in old Hollywood actors, cinema, animation, and most facets of the industry – and with the current collapse of Hollywood and celebrity status cue to the invasive eye of social media, ‘Dirty Glamour’ seeks to replicate that – showing a UK mindset that there’s sacrifice behind the gain on the silver screen.


Photo: Josh Gaskell


Skid Row’ opens the EP with a bendy and distorted riff. It’s playful in its rumbling bass and tumbling saxophone tones. The drums are energetic, the guitar semi-frenetic. Keats’ voice plays over the top, a mischievous narrator of an aspirational Hollywood story – evoking feelings of an upcoming actress. It’s a rags to riches tale, as the song negotiates the scene of LA’s rundown areas, to the ‘Oscar daze’ of fame. The song is effectively epitomised by chorus licked guitar jangles, piercing sax, and a percussive showing so impressive – a dark cinematic nature is clearly underlined in its presence.


Fairground’ follows with its ‘big dreams and big rides’ and we move from a playful tone, to a writhing, prowling track. The bass is foreboding and attitude filled. Again, the drumkit explodes further on to the scene. Duke’s guitar soars, like a menacing spirit released from an ancient, cursed tomb. Wreaking havoc on fresh new found air, it delightfully washes over its live audience. His voice is a light contrast to some dystopian sounds, yet still ever so emotive and almost takes a Lyndsay Buckingham-like form in parts. 


The EP’s third track ‘Again’ tells the story of Hollywood’s true darkness. In the artist’s thoughts, he: “uses the word ‘Again’ to emphasise the panic, confusion and anxiety” while “rain imagery presents a murky, bleak sonic landscape.” ‘Hollywood Hills again, I’m sitting on the sign / sign is not your friend, again.’” This third track holds jazzy notes, swaggering sax and again, a jangle-rich guitar while bass and drums tag team to man sonic bounds.


The closer, ‘Damn Dara’, brings the EP to a screeching, swirling halt. The crescendo. Off the deep end. A crisp 80s cop-like bass line lays down a sweet patch for an uncontainable guitar to erupt. ‘Tell me / are you scared?’ is the question while the noise takes over, while still grasping melodic sense. It’s a fantastic end to a truly enriching listening experience. With this EP boldly nodding to Duke Keats’ live aptitude, this release will no doubt play a part in his latest live outings. His next live appearance comes on the 25th of July in his home city, Coventry. He plays The Tin At The Coal Vaults, alongside Moonwalks and Pristine.