New Long Leg by Dry Cleaning album review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions

4AD

8

Dry Cleaning

New Long Leg

Following on from 2019’s duo of releases, ‘Sweet Princess’ and ‘Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’, South London quartet, Dry Cleaning have readied their debut album ‘New Long Leg’. Building on their previous work, the group upped the ambition and the complexity found in their stark post-punk, that’s accompanied by Florence Shaw’s deadpan, spoken word delivery. With a stream of lyrical consciousness running like a broken faucet, Shaw acknowledges that thematically the four piece’s primary outing is purposefully vague “the title is ambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.”

‘New Long Leg’ is something of a dichotomy, sonically the sum of its parts – bass, guitars and drums – are minimal, with Lewis Maynard, Tom Dowse and Nick Buxton creating a sparse foundation that’s bestowed with a cold, metallic aesthetic. Most songs find their groove and the trio plough this furrow with production line efficiency. The juxtaposition to the band’s mechanical whirr is Shaw’s emotionless wordplay that spills out as an almost never ending splurge of words that completely forgoes the typical verse/chorus structure. It’s as if the band’s vocalist is reading diary entries at random, as the idea of a flowing narrative is largely abandoned. Along with the peculiar deployment of statements, there’s an Englishness to be discovered amongst the piston-like post-punk din. Let is not be said us Brits (yep, I am one) aren’t bestowed with a quirkiness that’s either brilliantly funny or sails wide of the mark (depending how you like your funny bone tickled).

As a broad brushstroke, ‘New Long Leg’s lyrics can be put into two categories; open to interpretation, otherwise known as ‘what the fuck?’ or bang on the nose. The former (whether on purpose or not) conveys a wry humour in some cases (not all) for example “a woman in aviators firing a bazooka” found in ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’ or “I’ve been thinking about eating that hot dog for hours” via ‘Strong Feeling’s drum machine hiss, cracks a smile across this writer’s face. Whether or not ‘John Wick’ is about the Keanu Reeves based action film series is up for debate but I’m fairly certain the Hollywood star isn’t aware of the English supermarket Sainsbury’s but that’s not stopped Shaw delivering the zinger of a line “someone pissed on my leg in the big Sainsbury’s”. When ‘New Long Leg’ isn’t being totally random, lyrics such as “if you like a girl be nice/it’s not rocket science” from ‘Unsmart Lady’ or the striking “just trying to put something positive into the world but I’m full of poisonous rage” located on album closer ‘Every Day Carry’ require no further explanation.

Across ten tracks Dry Cleaning’s debut offers an almost bottomless pit of wordy treasures to salvage and like any challenges you’re encouraged to burrow deeper to gain a great understanding.

Pre-order New Long Leg by Dry Cleaning HERE