The Castle & Falcon
Review by SdM
Following the release of their second, and brilliant, EP, ‘Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’, Dry Cleaning returned to Birmingham as part of The Magic Gang All Dayer.
The London based quartet are gaining a lot of attention with their unique post punk sound and Florence Shaw’s (mostly) spoken-word prose. Her stories, recollections and musings are often interjected with half-sung melodies or impassioned outbursts. “How fucking dare you!” she says during ‘Goodnight’. Shaw delivers the line in a icy sharp tone without losing a single crumb of composure. In a song that concerns the death of a beloved pet cat it is difficult to know if she is playing it for laughs: “goodnight sweet princess”. The ambiguity only serves to add an extra layer of intrigue to the whole Dry Cleaning mystique; it also adds an extra layer to the guilty pleasure and my subsequent spontaneous giggling to that particular line. (Sorry Flo, sorry princess.)
The carefree melodic opening of ‘Dog Proposal’ features an appropriately casually sung intro. “I’ve joined a gym, I’ve joined a gym” states Shaw at the midpoint – and once again the prosaic is transformed into the cryptic. ‘New Job’ from the first EP ‘Sweet Princess’ blends a caustic dynamic ferocity to the sound – the guitar melody modulating between a Stooges anger and a Smiths angst. The spiky ‘Magic Of Meghan’, also from the first EP, plays a driving-beat against Shaw’s off-beat humour. “She’s a smasher”, Shaw says of Prince Harry’s wife, “he’s like the cat that got the cream”.
‘Viking Hair’ and ‘Sit Down Meal’ each receive euphoric applause from the audience. The magic of Dry Cleaning was in full force winning over the stragglers wandering into the gig. The final track ‘Conversation’ is the band in top gear – Shaw at her most enigmatic and the musicians spinning the song into a powerful rock tune. The drums in overdrive and the improvised bass tearing it up left an audience in rapture.
It has come to IndieMidlands’ attention that someone* had, with malicious forethought, half-inched the band’s set-list, added a song to it, and returned it. A tawdry and low-down attempt to get Dry Cleaning to play another of their fab tunes. To whoever did that, we collectively wave a finger in your face and say, “No! No!” – just as you would to a puppy sitting next to a stinky wet patch on the carpet. We wish to let it be known that we do not approve of this naughty behaviour. God however, loves a trier.
* – Yes, it was us…