Dry Cleaning “Stumpwork” Record Review

Let’s get the important business out of the way, right up front. The album by Dry Cleaning “Stumpwork” is out now, and it is great.

I can not exactly recall how I became aware of Dry Cleaning, some mention on the internet no doubt. But by that time their first album “New Long Leg” was being released, so investigated and was happily struck by the band’s sound, their economic sound, driving drums, groovy bass with busy effected guitar, against / with a singer whose deadpan delivery both offset and complimented the music. Sometimes reminding me of bands like Pylon, or The Smiths. Yet uniquely their own.

I dug into their history and also found that the two EP’s they had released before their proper first album were brilliant as well. Thus far, no missteps. The band seemed to have arrived fully formed from the get go.

I have read a number of articles now about the singer’s spoken word deadpan delivery, and the fact that she cribbed her lyrics from the internet, reading comments sections, or collected things she had overheard in passing.
But I am unconcerned about the source of her material. It is delivered in such a way that it sounds like one’s own inner monologue, random thoughts, and perhaps that is why it has such appeal, it seems so easily recognizable.
That being said, it is not as if she has taken complete statements and forced them into song lyric shape. There is no doubt a lot of thought and editing before these bits and pieces work as songs.

On the new album, “Stumpwork” the band have not changed things so much as they have managed to improve them, and made themselves sound even better than they did on the first album. They have added a bit of extra instrumentation, accents to a few songs, and the guitar sound seems more varied in tone. On a whole, the music may be brighter than it was on the first album, and makes the inner monologue lyrics sound sometimes anthemic.

The new album is a nice balance between fast shorter songs such as “Gary Ashby” & “Don’t Press Me” and longer slightly more experimental songs, “No Decent Shoes For Rain”, “Anna Calls From The Arctic” & “Liberty Log”.

The band seemed to have been nearly constantly on tour since they released their first album, and will be hitting the road, or boats or planes soon to play more shows to support their new album. I was fortunate to have seen the band perform when they played Portland, and was struck by joy from the first note. Contrary what I may have read, the band is not a dour band on stage by any means. The guitarist found it impossible to stay still, vibrating with energy and happiness as he wildly played through the band’s set. The faces on both the drummer and bass player smiled away, song after song. The band obviously had the time of their lives sharing the songs they wrote with an audience.
If you have a chance to see them perform live, please do so.
In the meantime, buy the new album, “Stumpwork”.