Music review: Dry Cleaning, Barrowland, Glasgow

Dry Cleaning unleashed a post-punk storm of big licks and soothing words, writes Fiona Shepherd

Dry Cleaning, Barrowland, Glasgow ****

South London quartet Dry Cleaning are one of the more remarkable bands to cross over from the indie scene in recent years. Wet Leg may have made it on to the Brits with a semi-spoken song about a chaise longue but Dry Cleaning see their unlikely lyrical inspiration and raise them a Scratchcard Lanyard, whatever that is.

Their “hit” “tune” is as good an introduction as any to their quirky, infectious, free associating stream-of-storytelling, as delivered with deadpan cool by frontwoman Florence Shaw, and duly featured early on in their immersive Barrowland set.

Dry Cleaning PIC: Guy BolongaroDry Cleaning PIC: Guy Bolongaro
Dry Cleaning PIC: Guy Bolongaro
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Given that Shaw eschews singing in favour of somewhat monotonous spoken word narration, it was crucial that her vocals were well mixed and prominently placed.

Her soothing tone dominated, words, phrases, expressions chosen as much for their sound and texture as their meaning and communicated to hypnotic effect, with only one lyrical prompt sheet brandished during the encore. Given the single-minded lack of dynamics in her delivery, it fell to her bandmates to colour each track musically, whether with needling riffs, low-slung bass or motorik rhythms.

The wonder is that a group with no obvious tunes can be so sonically satisfying, from the needling bassline and shimmying guitar of Conservative Hell to the freakout blast of Unsmart Lady and the gothic guitar of Magic of Meghan.

Guitarist Tom Dowse, bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton always seemed to be going somewhere interesting, whipping up a post-punk storm of Banshees/Pop Group/Public Image Ltd proportions, with Shaw the calm centre.

At one point, she switched up to an almost sing-song tone, a short but sweet surprise over bright guitar. Beyond that brief incursion of rhythmic rapping, she remained an inscrutable oracle while the rest of the band unleashed the big licks.

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