Stumpwork, the follow-up to 2021’s New Long Leg was released on 21 October 2022. The South London-based group’s first studio album, recorded in just two weeks with producer John Parish at the iconic Rockfield Studios, became a huge critical and commercial success reaching #4 in the UK Album Charts and featuring in best-of-2021 polls across the board. Buoyed by its success, Nick Buxton (drums), Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass) and Florence Shaw (vocals) returned to rural Wales in late 2021, partnering once more with Parish and engineer Joe Jones. Working from a position of trust in the same studio and with the same team, imposter syndrome and anxiety was replaced by a fresh freedom and openness to explore beyond an already rangy sonic palette, a newfound confidence in their creative vision. A longer period in the studio afforded the time to experiment, improvise, play, sharpen their table tennis skills.
Stumpwork was made in the aftermath of the death of two very important people to the band; bassist Lewis Maynard’s mother, and guitarist Tom Dowse’s grandfather. Both were instrumental in the band’s development, both in encouragement and, in the case of Maynard’s mother, literally providing the band with a place to rehearse. Shaw’s lyrics explore not only loss and detachment but all the twists and turns, simple joys and minor gripes of human experience too. Ultimately, what emerges from it all is a subtle but assertive optimism, and a lesson in the value of curiosity. Stumpwork is a heady mix that is entirely the band’s own, distinguishing it from anything produced by their contemporaries.