‘Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’ is the second EP by London band Dry Cleaning who have sky rocketed in popularity over the last year. Self released and physically packaged with their debut EP ‘Sweet Princess’, this follows hot on the heels of the re-release of said debut.
Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’ sees the band adding flourishes to the straight forward post punk of the debut.
There are several firsts here. For instance, the opening track ‘Dog Proposal’ kicks off with Lewis Maynard’s catchy bass. This is followed up by another first: Florence Shaw singing as opposed to speaking (albeit in non-lyrical form). The song has a great guitar hook by Tom Dowse reminiscent of early REM. Nick Buxton’s drumming is super tight, driving the song into more familiar territory accompanying Shaw’s superbly cynical diatribe about hard work and success. There are strong hints of Sonic Youth and The Feelies as the song progresses.
First single ‘Viking Hair’, carries on the theme of vocal melody with tuneful “oooohs” intersecting the verses and the chorus. Musically the guitar is gnarled, carrying the melody, ringing out in the verses and stabbing in the chorus. The band build so effortlessly and provide far more than just a backdrop to the comical observational lyrics.
“Over the road there’s an abandoned fridge, still works”. It’s super catchy, a total indie hit.
‘Spoils’ has such great attitude. Both lyrically and musically it has an aggressive edge. The thumping four to the floor drums, the guitar squealing with feedback before its fuzzed out hook. Then there’s the bassline that makes this the evil twin of Jonathan Richman’s “Egyptian Reggae”.
There are powerful yet bizarre lyrical images repeated throughout like “Run over by a, squashed by a, crushed by a crazy raisin”.
It manoeuvres into a dirty funk, makes time for a short guitar solo, a great breakdown and crashing crescendo with strange background vocals and a sample that sounds like it came from a fairground ride.“Jam After School” has a great opening line “The last bullshit masculine mountain conquering crap” (at least that’s what I think it is). The opening guitar hook makes this sort of a cousin of “Phone Scam” from the debut EP. Dowse then plays with harmonics that recall early Modest Mouse.
The mix and the driving nature of the song means that the vocals are sometimes a little hidden but fun references to “sausage rolls”, “Capri Sun” and “gut problems” jump out and make you want to play it back to grasp the vivid imagery conjured. “Sombre One”, as the name suggests, is more downbeat with initially just clanging drawn out guitar notes accompanying Shaw’s vocals. The bass and drums very slowly fade into the mix, initially like the faint sound of a party next door.
It’s an interesting dynamic experiment that closes with a conversation in which Dowse tells a funny story about a Rottweiler.
Final track “Sit Down Meal” exhibits the first use of keyboard on a Dry Cleaning song, an instrument they had to do without when they started for not being able to fit it into the practice room! This is Shaw’s first lyrical performance that is accompanied with a vocal melody and hints at a possible way forward for the band, also adding interesting vocal inflections. The guitar solo at the end brings back the Sonic Youth vibes, like a wonky Teenage Riot.
Maynard’s bass and Buxton’s drums, as on the previous EP, are perhaps the unsung heroes and provide a super solid and important platform for the inventive guitar work and lyrics. So, all in all, Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks has added extra colours to Dry Cleaning’s already exciting palate.
You may enjoy this if you like: The Fall, Sauna Youth, The Feelies, Sonic Youth, Life Without Buildings.