EP Review: Dry Cleaning – 'Sweet Princess'


Poetic spoken word and intricate guitar music make for a perfect EP.

Dry Cleaning’s debut EP Sweet Princess is more than just your typical kind of modern post-punk. The band blend edgy guitar music with poetic spoken word. Think of ‘The Gift’ from The Velvet Underground’s White Light White Heat album. However, the lack of noise and feedback and the emphasis on poetry rather than a short story can be comparable to Patti Smith’s Horses.

The EP opens with ‘Goodnight’. There is no verse-chorus structure in the lyrics – the importance on lyrics whilst the music offers an interesting back drop for them is stressed straight away. It’s about growing up and the “good old days”: “My cat died three months ago at 17 years old. When this song plays I can remember the good old days when I was a kid how we played together with my cat at home alone with my brother and all the good days I had with her...goodnight sweet princess.” It’s a very matter-of-fact delivery that gets straight to the point, whilst exploring something quite poignant. Second track ‘New Job’ has cool guitars that alternate between a jangle and chime to crushing punk power chords, similar to Gang of Four. Structurally, this is probably the closest Dry Cleaning get to the traditional verse-chorus.  Lead single ‘Magic Meghan’ is an ode to Meghan Markle built around an infectious riff: “Never has one outfit been designed, to send so many messages/Earrings to empower women/Bag that helps charity, jeans made in Wales/Cruelty free coat”. Whilst the monarchy has been questioned by bands in the past, Dry Cleaning offer a new perspective on it with Meghan being a feminist role model and wanting to help people. ‘Traditional Fish’ is a slower, meaner and moodier song that comments on what the public want from their local supermarket: “Newspapers, Magazine/It’s Phil to the rescue as Cathy meets her worst nightmare/Who’s the Pride of Britain?/Michelle blasts Mark/I was shot in the head by my kid”.

Guitar-wise, the riffs are akin to those on Richard Hell’s Blank Generation, and ‘Phone Scam’ is the perfect example of this. Lyrically, the song seems to point out the passivity of the public whilst also questioning the people who purposely cause drama: “Also, no one seemed to be very bothered by the fact that she was screaming at me. I had the feeling that what she was saying was a script.” Sweet Princess finishes with ‘Conversation’, a critique of modern life and the social awkwardness, isolation and alienation it creates: “He’s saying to be yourself/But if I’m myself/I come across as strange/My jokes don’t land”.

The Sweet Princess EP is really something else. The spoken-word and poetic lyrics are on par with Sleaford Mods, but with (only slightly) less swearing and put to quirky indie-post-punk music. It’s a strange combination, but Dry Cleaning pull it off perfectly.

Words by Matthew Brocklehurst

The band will play the following dates in support of the EP:
21.08 - Shacklewell Arms, London
22.08 - Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
23.08 - YES (Basement), Manchester
24.08 - Future Yard Festival, Birkinhead
19.10 - Simple Things Festival, Bristol
20.10 - SWN Festival, Cardiff