Album Review Dry Cleaning - Stumpwork

It’s unlikely to win over the naysayers, but, for those already enamoured with their kitchen sink Dadaism, ‘Stumpwork’ is yet more magic from Dry Cleaning.

Dry Cleaning - Stumpwork

What does a gaming mouse, a jelly shoe, and a tortoise named Gary Ashby have in common? Not a lot really. But they still all tumble from Florence Shaw’s mouth on Dry Cleaning’s second album ‘Stumpwork’. The London post-punks’ follow-up to the spectacularly sardonic ‘New Long Leg’ is less scrappy than their debut, but filled with just as much stream-of-consciousness surrealism. ‘Stumpwork’ is an attempt to make sense of the aftermath of the you-know-what. The tangled emotions of grief and longing. The constant reversals from intense concentration to cold remoteness. Minds wandering in search of distraction or explanation. Florence’s cut-up observations see the group jump, for instance, from sumptuary laws to an incident in Edinburgh with a Kindle on ‘Conservative Hell’. There’s something jarringly funny about hearing her mumble about the economic crisis in abstraction before asking “Is it still OK to call you my disco pickle?” on ‘Hot Penny Day’. ‘Driver’s Story’ even lays critical appraisal bare. “Rough first part / Love second part / It’s cool stuff but we want different styles.” And they do, flicking between distant, sludgy riffs and surprisingly bright melodies. ‘Liberty Log’ echoes the rumbling soundscapes of ‘Kid A’, while Tom Dowe’s guitar on ‘Driver’s Story’ lollops like a slurring drunk. Elsewhere, ‘No Decent Shoes For The Rain’ and the jangle-pop ‘Kwenchy Kups’ feel to draw more from The Field Mice and The Go-Betweens than the oft-cited Sonic Youth. It’s unlikely to win over the naysayers, but, for those already enamoured with their kitchen sink Dadaism, ‘Stumpwork’ is yet more magic from Dry Cleaning.

 

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Since their acclaimed debut album, Dry Cleaning have been on a giddy upwards trajectory. While the world around the London quartet has changed, ‘Stumpwork’ is as singularly idiosyncratic as ever.