Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg

Dry Cleaning’s impressive interplay and energy make the songs on New Long Leg wonderfully replayable

Album Review by Skye Butchard | 29 Mar 2021
  • Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg
Album title: New Long Leg
Artist: Dry Cleaning
Label: 4AD
Release date: 2 Apr

You’ve got tough competition to stand out as a British band with a deadpan spoken-word vocalist, a bad band name and the obligatory post-punk influence. Between the Squids, and the Shames, and the Sports Teams, and the Black Country comma New Roads, Dry Cleaning somehow stand out. New Long Leg, their debut album on 4AD, has the wit and confidence to captivate on its own merits.

Florence Shaw’s endlessly quotable poetry is built from scrambled conversations and cryptic asides that form a style of everyday surrealism. Yes, it’s deadpan and familiar, but it’s never monotonous. There’s subtlety and warmth, intentionality and rhythm. The calculated placement of breaths and the surprising changes in her vocal quality make her a commanding lead even when she sounds disinterested in the plot. And there is plot, the more you listen. The precise details in even the most off-hand lines like 'that seems like a lot of garlic' do more than some novels.

The band’s impressive interplay and energy make these songs wonderfully replayable, to the point where the lyrics feel melodic and singalong worthy. Guitarist Tom Dowse, drummer Nick Buxton, and bassist Lewis Maynard are looser and more explorative players on New Long Leg, after the taut energy of the band’s early EPs. Now, the impressionistic guitar lines and lolloping drums that colour songs like More Big Birds and Unsmart Lady feel at one with Shaw’s voice.

Like Shaw’s one-liners, and the mundane moments they represent, the songs on New Long Leg become heavy and improbably moving when stacked on top of each other. 

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