Album Review: Dry Cleaning - 'Stumpwork'
Updated: May 3
Let me say this: At the beginning of 2021, I was a little rough with my album ratings. Since I am reviewing Dry Cleaning’s new LP, the best example comes from my rating of New Long Leg. In it, I wrote, “3.5 out of 5 (because they hinted at the possibilities in the last song [‘Every Day Carry’] but did not bring it anywhere else.)” However, reading through Dry Cleaning’s product info, I came across this sentence:
Listen to the album and you can feel that increased boldness – vocals which coil tightly around deft and complex riffs, great meshes of instrumental texture and the willingness to launch into full-on abstraction.
My job is done. Haha. That would be a major phoning-it-in.
New Long Leg
Dry Cleaning’s debut album did its job. It got them the experience, audience, and recognition they needed. New Long Leg validated them as a band, which I know they don’t want or need. However, they got it out there, and the experience taught them what they needed to know to create their follow-up.
I started this review with a quote from the band’s promo, and I will add a couple more; I believe they capture the strength of Dry Cleaning’s new album.
“They proposed to producer John Parish that they spend twice as much time on [Stumpwork].”
From guitarist Tom Dowse: “We could see the bigger picture and knew where to focus our energy more efficiently.”
Also, Dowse: “We consciously wanted to make the songs much richer in parts and we were keen to explore more space, using ambience and atmosphere to be a greater dynamic.”
“Before recording they rehearsed for two days.”
I am a natural-born cheerleader and want to see people succeed; It genuinely gives me joy. Hearing the evolution of a band from its debut to its follow-up and knowing it is because they put in the work is why I keep listening. Going back to what I wrote for New Long Leg and “Every Day Carry,” I knew they just gave a glimpse of what was possible. For Stumpwork, they raised the bar.
Listen to “Kwenchy Kups.” It’s a different feel, and I’m happy it’s the second track. “Hot Penny Day,” “No Decent Shoes For Rain,” and “Liberty Log” showcase the band’s growth, increased boldness, and lack of fear. They explore musically, especially in “No Decent Shoes.” I love the intro and wish they would have lingered in it a little longer. However, it becomes a clearly obvious Dry Cleaning song. Then, at the three-minute mark, it sounds like they are giving us another version of the same song. The difference is not huge; it’s like using the word angry but then indignant to clarify the type of anger.
While I typically focus on longer songs, I also love “Don’t Press Me,” the shortest track on the album. Florence’s voice and lyrics, the guitar work, and the whistling during the chorus. There is so much to like, and the length makes it perfect.
Final Thought: In my New Long Leg review, I commented on the band’s clean and intentional sound. Through the variety of music on their new album, Dry Cleaning shows their dedication to their growth as musicians. I appreciate that. Oh, yeah, and I love the exits in “Conservative Hell” and “Liberty Logs.”
Favorite Songs: “Kwenchy Kups,” “Hot Penny Day,” and “Liberty Log”
Rating - 4.75/5 (This is the follow-up, and I cannot wait until I hear the album that will define this band.)