EP REVIEW: Dry Cleaning – ‘Sweet Princess’.

Photo by Hanna Katrina

Dry Cleaning excel on debut EP packed with intricate post-punk and a perfect patchwork spoken word delivery.

Lewis Maynard, Tom Dowse, Florence Shaw and Nick Buxton started making music together in 2017 after the idea of a collaboration cropped up at a party. Dry Cleaning was solely an instrumental project before Florence Shaw joined on vocals with no prior musical experience, opting to use her speaking voice in early sessions to ease herself into the role. What an inspired decision it turned out to be. Following this, ‘Sweet Princess’, the band’s debut EP, was recorded before they’d even played a show.

‘Goodnight’ opens the EP with a striking lyrical delivery, Florence Shaw’s lyricism is formed from inner monologues and phrases borrowed from overheard everyday conversations and extracts from newspapers. ‘New Job’ continues the band’s driving, angular guitar sound, incorporating the jangly and very danceable post-punk style that has seen Atlanta trio Omni become 2019’s new guitar music pioneers.

‘Magic of Meghan’ is the band’s stand out piece, intricate guitars work themselves into a frenzy whilst the bass holds a tight groove. Overall, the track is incredibly hypnotic and bound to be a live favourite, not only because of the subject matter (the Duchess of Sussex), but mainly due to the beautifully unsettling spoken word delivery and woozy, atmospheric instrumentation.

“The lyrics are a mixture of inner monologue, YouTube comments describing memories of songs, and phrases collected from adverts on TV..” – Florence Shaw.

‘Traditional Fish’ delves into more of a slow-burning post-punk style. The band step back and allow space for Florence Shaw’s puzzle-like lyricism and social commentary to take centre stage. On ‘Phone Scam’ Dry Cleaning‘s love of math-rock comes into play, albeit on a very stripped back level. The London band’s music never weighs too heavy and certainly benefits from a minimalist approach. Each instrument picks it’s punches and avoids overindulgence, perhaps due to Dry Cleaning‘s origins as an instrumental project.

Closing track ‘Conversation’ is as bare-bones as the last, although with a darker instrumental underbelly, still the guitars twinkle and clang in perfect form. Florence Shaw imitates a one-way phone conversation which delves into everyday existence, obsession with social media, dating and generally not being understood. The patchwork lyricism touches upon relatable moments in everyday life, whilst also containing snippets of the random and the strange. Form your own lyrical backdrop or story, be misunderstood or throwaway. That’s the beauty of music.

‘Sweet Princess’ is an incredibly unique EP which sets itself apart from the current new wave of post-punk bands. Dry Cleaning play the sold out London date of their ‘Sweet Princess’ tour at The Shacklewell Arms on August 21st.

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By Karl Johnson

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