Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork (4AD) (Album Review)

Dry Cleaning have released their second album, Stumpwork, an album that asks more questions than it answers.

‘Is your muffin buttered’? That’s what Wet Leg want to know. But they are not the only British band with a droll, detached spoken-word thing going on.

Dry Cleaning ‘Should I propose friendship’? is the question the vocalist Florence Shaw kicks off Stumpwork with. The song is titled Anna Calls From The Arctic and the track is an instant earworm thanks to the band’s jazzy/indie groove and Shaw’s Laurie Anderson-on-Valium delivery.

Her stream-of-consciousness lyrics urge the listener to ‘say something, keep trying’, while warning us there is ‘no shrunking’ and then chants…’dance bio, B. Manilow, birth swapped’.

What does it mean?

I have no idea, but it sure sounds cool.

Florence seems to have a thing for animals…otters, water caterpillars, turtles…and food…pancakes, spring rolls, jelly shoes.

Still not making sense?

Apparently, many of the lyrics have been “gleaned from an archive of newspaper clippings”, which explains everything and nothing.

The band itself…guitarist Tom Dowse, bass  player Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton…lays down a groove, Florence reads the newspaper clippings and producer John Parish (PJ Harvey/Aldous Harding) turns it all in something  strangely compelling.

And there are questions a-plenty:

Can’t you see my bloodshot eyes?
What is this toxic sludge?

Do you like Stumpwork?

The answer is yes, although I’m not sure why.

I do know I will catch them at Auckland’s Tuning Fork where, hopefully, all will be revealed. After all , they do have a song (No Decent Shoes For Rain) that begins with ‘New Zealand’.

What more could you ask for?

Marty Duda

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