There’s a lot of great things about Dry Cleaning’s debut full-length, New Long Leg. John Parish’s strong production work propels Tomas Dowse’s post-punk riffs to greater heights, all while putting together Lewis Maynard and Nick Buxton’s rhythms in a strong commanding position. But by far the star of the show is frontwoman Florence Shaw, who glides through the music with her deadpan tone, sardonically delivering a barrage of lyrical hitters with seemingly unlimited wit and style.
This to me is the key to how the band pushes beyond post-punk to deliver something new and fresh. Shaw doesn’t sing so much as she narrates, but the lush quality of her vocals and the production care provided to keep her crisp and on focus makes each element of the surrounding instrumentation that much better. Coupled with her seemingly random style of weird poetry and an eye for poignant imagery and boy, do we have a great thing going on.
Take for example the quick-witted opener “Scratchcard Lanyard”, with its off-kilter images like: “A woman in aviators firing a bazooka” and “It’ll be ok I just need to be weird and hide for a bit and eat an old sandwich from my bag.” All of these are delivered nonchalantly, as if they were everyday thoughts. Odd as they may seem, these fleeting lyrical moments blend so well with the drums and the scratchy riffs that they all converge into a hypnotic experience. It may look as though these weird witticisms are merely icing on the cake, but the collective moments they deliver often become the big payoff of the whole experience.
The philosophy of Shaw’s writing could be summarized by the groovy “Strong Feelings”, with its opening line and mantra: “Just an emo dead stuff collector / Things come to the brain”. and the hook “I just want to tell you I’ve got scabs on my head”. She claims that these are all weird ramblings of a troubled mind, but it’s undeniable that it took an amount of care and effort to craft these pieces as it’s not often you find bizarre music on this level that’s still easily as fun and enjoyable.
With dense lyrical content in its ten tracks there I constantly find more nuggets to discover here with each new listen. Some highlights include the title track, with its angular guitars that competitively match Shaw’s jagged thoughts and chanting. The otherworldly closer “Every Day Carry” is also a blast to go through, where poetry and groove strike the perfect marriage, with a song structure even more ambitious than its peers.
Dry Cleaning’s New Long Leg is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. A strong reminder that there is still fresh new music out there, you just have to keep your ears open.