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Dirty Nice – Shoes Review

“Nice shoes” scrawled on a post-it note. It takes a few coffees to kick the brain into gear and decipher this code. Not a compliment left by someone listening to Blur in the early hours but a request from the past to review a song which released even earlier than yesterday. Fair go. Dirty Nice present Shoes with the passion of a Nike collector, foaming at the mouth when they discover creases in their Air Jordans. Comfortable shoes for walking around muddy fields those may be, they must be ziplocked and kept away from dust and nature. Such is the shoe. Dirty Nice present the opposite of this clean-freak moral, the dirtiness is quite lovely after all. Especially on Shoes.  

Warm familiarity welcomes listeners to this one. Trickles of Ratatat meets Wet Leg in those delicate first few seconds. Cast those aside immediately though. Firing some familiar fixtures into the brain before changing gears and welcoming this vibrant desire to see life from another perspective. Give them your shoes. Dirty Nice creates a colourful, upbeat tone and guides listeners through a genuine, heartfelt track which has plenty of those personalised anecdotes which everyone can latch onto. Welcome the dance through life in the other shoes. Some are comfier than others. While Shoes is a comfy taste of Dirty Nice style.  

Just a second shy of three minutes and the intentions of the off-beat tones ring similar to the earlier works of Charlie Pelling. He takes a wild departure from Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared but those familiar with the viral project will sense those seconds of clawing, upbeat joys. Shoes has a simplicity at its core which gives Pelling and fellow Dirty Nice musician Mark Thompson the chance to relay a message of real appeal. As with every well-maintained message, the real charm comes from the details littered throughout, the first-time friend group meetings, the joy of sunny skies and dancing away. There is an innocence to Shoes which is hard to find in the rest of the dream-pop genre. Few songs are now fundamentally only about fun in the sun, and while such a boom would be reductive, it is nice to experience the simpler side once in a while. 

Simpler does not mean shoddier either, and for Shoes to be so simple, it needs finely-tuned and very effective, deeply sought instrumentals. Guided well by the quieter, guitar-heavy opening and closing pockets, Shoes has a delightful joy to it hard to come by elsewhere. Charming and earnest in equal measure, this Pelling and Thompson collaboration is a successful one not just for its breezy feeling but the flirtations with weirder hooks and riffs. Nothing too expansive or dangerous but enough to push the boat out a little, to test the waters for later releases. Great comforts of new experiences, capturing the heart and flow of first-time meetings and the desire which follows. Dirty Nice stake their claim in the loved-up dream-pop arena and does so with the weather tax, the implication of sunny weather providing happier thoughts to an already upbeat tune, behind it. With or without summer goodness, Shoes marches on with great care.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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