Saturday, August 07, 2021

Dry Cleaning are weirder and fiercer than ever with ‘Bug Eggs/Tony Speaks!’

Since signing with 4AD, Dry Cleaning have solidified their standing as an extremely fun and fascinating UK post-punk export.

The quartet has recently shared a double A-side single, entitled ‘Bug Eggs/Tony Speaks!’, following their debut album ‘New Long Leg’. Both tracks were conceived during their debut album sessions last summer and were only previously available as bonus tracks.

‘Bug Eggs’ allows another aspect of Dry Cleaning’s music to unfold, as Shaw’s lyrics depart from their usual unsettling lack of context in exchange for uncharacteristically candid lyrics.

Shaw draws upon themes of age, fragility, and sexual desire; allowing her to explore how she has grown into a gentle person whilst preserving a sense of frankness, “I am not as fresh-faced as I used to be / But what I’ve lost in that area / I’ve gained in confidence”.

‘Bug Eggs’ is a sonic oddity. Tom Dowse’s warped guitar, layered upon Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard’s, creates a slow, stable soundscape. As undulating synths pirouette around neat guitar lines, it becomes apparent that Dry Cleaning has taken a leaf from the post-punk handbook. 

Written days after the Conservative party won the December 2019 UK election, ‘Tony Speaks’ lyrically explores climate change, environmental catastrophes and political campaigning. The single is a scything takedown, which sees Shaw side-eyeing how we are taught to equate our self-worth to monetary value, as she powerfully states, “Remember you can judge your achievements based on things other than how much money you have”.

Despite Shaw’s hopeful lyrics, she quickly descends into a pit of “50,000 crappy stickers”, channelling a sense of pure, visceral panic alongside tumultuous yet tight rhythms. However, the melodic guitar pattern grounds everything within the swirl of Shaw’s deadpan vocals and a chugging percussion, serving as an anchor in the sonic vortex.

Amidst the movement of post-punk, many bands tend to take themselves too seriously. However, Dry Cleaning dodge this sense of seriousness; established by their ability to lyrically cross-examine the mundanity of life, whether they focus on coming of age or the pressures of modern living. There’s more hidden within each of their tracks than one listen can decipher, but we are confident that they are worth the effort.

Image: Bugg Eggs/Tony Speaks! Official Single Artwork

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