DRY CLEANING – ” Stumpwork ” Best Albums Of 2022

Posted: November 18, 2022 in MUSIC

“It is a shame that Dry Cleaning are so often talked about simply as a post-punk band – or even worse, lumped in with a ‘sprechgesang’ movement. They are a four-piece guitar act, and Florence Shaw’s performance drifts between singing and speaking, but that’s really where such comparisons should end. If nothing else, on their second album ‘Stumpwork’, Dry Cleaning prove they are unique… The London band’s second album is a bold leap forward, one that sets the band apart from their contemporaries and defies categorisation.” 

“I don’t want to go on about it / But we’re back in business / Just a sweet, natural start / We will flower,” Florence Shaw declares on “Anna Calls from the Arctic,” the first song on Dry Cleaning’s sophomore album “Stumpwork”. She’s true to her word: The LP’s tone-setting opener heralds a subtler, stranger new era for the U.K. quartet, emboldened by the universal acclaim for their full-length debut “New Long Leg”. The band’s jangling guitar-rock grooves persist, but as the exception, rather than the rule—they are increasingly keen on marching down unexpected sonic avenues, complicating the instrumentation that underpins Shaw’s sometimes-spoken, sometimes-sung vocal mosaics. “Stumpwork” has enough in common with its predecessor so as not to throw fans for a loop, but is very much its own moody, nuanced animal, an expressive and expectation-defying showcase of Dry Cleaning’s blossoming sound.

TUTV: I’m not as enthusiastic as the British ‘hype’ press because Florence Shaw spoken word vocals are, yes, bewitching on first hearing but it in the end the monotone timbre
of her voice gets a bit boring.

“Stumpwork” was made in the aftermath of the death of two very important people to the band; bassist Lewis Maynard’s mother, and guitarist Tom Dowse’s grandfather.  Both were instrumental in the band’s development, both in encouragement and, in the case of Maynard’s mother, literally providing the band with a place to rehearse.  Shaw’s lyrics explore not only loss and detachment but all the twists and turns, simple joys and minor gripes of human experience too.  Ultimately, what emerges from it all is a subtle but assertive optimism, and a lesson in the value of curiosity.  “Stumpwork” is a heady mix that is entirely the band’s own, distinguishing it from anything produced by their contemporaries.

Singles/clips: No Decent Shoes for Rain / Anna Calls From The Arctic / Don’t Press Me

Released: 22nd October 2022 

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