Ltd ed "recycled black vinyl" / standard white vinyl / pink vinyl - note the recycled vinyl is the limited version. Also available on cassette.
I'm not entirely sure Dry Cleaning intended to make it this far. The radio and the big stages and world tours, and now.. an Album 2. A for-private-entertainment, between-mates garage band that caught the wider imagination by sheer force of personality, it can't have been many people's first thought to see the story pan out this way. Well, now look at the mess you've made them make. The headline on Stumpwork isn't so much one of a victory lap, as how the four-piece have written their way to an unexpected second act. The Cult of Personality that shapes pop/rock discourse necessitates a focus on the singer, and when you've a figurehead as defiantly anti-orthodox as Florence Shaw that's inevitably where much of the attention is going to land. And it's for good reason of course - the absurdist turn of phrase and patchwork non-sequiturs (or are they?), the delivery that see-saws between the dispassionate and the gently exasperated, the humour AND the elan (so rarely do we get both) more than enough to carry a lesser band to the title. Stumpwork, though, reveals just how great company Shaw is keeping. The palette has widened, that rock solid rhythm section of Lewis Maynard and Nick Buxton, and Tom Dowse's ever restless guitar playing stretched in off-kilter directions - see, for example, the jingle-jangle bounce of Kwenchy Kups or the flanged bass sludge and sax interjections of Hot Penny Day. There aren't really choruses to return to as such, the song structures not obviously conceived with that in mind. Instead the ear is drawn to specific moments, say a guitar tone, an image, a coda or interlude, a clever device that presents the music and lyrics in symbiosis, one reflecting the other. As Shaw winds an inscrutable narrative, so the band weave and sashay in appropriate manner. I'd argue it's this subtle shift that represents an upgrade on the first record, the songs slightly knottier and so with more to untie, more reason to return. I think it also means Dry Cleaning have written themselves a future here, too. A second album may have once seemed improbable. Now the possibilities feel ever-reaching.