- 21 Oct 22
Mumblecore poets return with singular second LP
Dry Cleaning’s 2021 debut, New Long Leg, was an ecstatically droll mix of mumbled poetry and post-rock riffs. That formula felt both exceedingly ancient – some listeners may have flashed back to the ‘90s and the writers' group angst of bands such as Movietone – and, in its anger and immediacy, thoroughly 21st century. The magic ingredient was vocalist Florence Shaw, an artist and illustrator recruited to push Dry Cleaning out of indie club mediocrity (she said “no”, more than once before finally coming around).
Eighteen months later, the quartet return with Stumpwork – and not much has changed. The formula – Shaw delivers lyrics in a stream of self-consciousness as guitars chime and twitter – is intact. If there is a shift it is one of tone: where New Long Leg was a record in a hurry, for the follow-up Dry Cleaning are in a more expansive and less fraught frame of mind.
It’s funnier, too. Single ‘Don’t Press Me’, for instance, is an almost wacky love letter to video gaming (“All I could afford was a gaming mouse/So don't touch my gaming mouse, you rat”).
But singling out moments of brilliance is difficult and pointless. As with New Long Leg, the trick with Stumpwork is one of accumulative magic. It is an album in which to lose yourself, as it gets under your skin and inside your head in the most thrilling fashion imaginable.