New Long Leg
Story has it South London-based Dry Cleaning has its origin in a long-ago karaoke night and a small garage in which guitarist Tom Dowse, drummer Nick Buxton, and Lewis Maynard would collaborate together. After playing some snippets for future lead singer Florence Shaw—who later brought over a copy of Fears of Your Life, an illustrated book of author Michael Bernard’s fears, great and small, and simply began reading them over the music—something big happened: they realized they were on to something stylish and unique. Before long, they produced two well-regarded EPs in 2019, and now, at long last, they have released their debut album New Long Leg. The result is something akin to a punk rock poetry reading in which Shaw deadpans the witty, irreverent lyrics while guitar and drums create a perpetual groove that builds and rolls through the background. Long story short: it’s fantastic.
Opener “Scratchcard Lanyard” is a bass-driven track with rips of guitars splashing across it, and a Fontaines D.C.-esque undercurrent that permeates the sound of the whole album. “Unsmart Lady” shows a willingness to let the consistent groove go wild in bursts, while “Strong Feelings” stays more between their own self-designed lines. It’s hard at this point not to be reminded of someone like Courtney Barnett in her manner of delivery. Throughout the album, the lyrics are a strong point, often covering random musings and desires and mundanities of modern life, sometimes breaking out into playful yelps and posing lots of questions. In the title track “New Long Leg”, Shaw demands to “Let me see your knees/your useless long leg” and questions whether or not there will “be a hairdryer in my stateroom?”. But the quirkiness of it all is absolutely part of the charm, and like a good poet she plays with the phrasing, adding and changing words to some recurrent phrases that shift their meaning while all the while the guitar keeps ripping along in the back in total support. The overall effect is of feeling dropped into someone else’s life and trying to make sense of it all as it whirls passed.
In the end, this is a bit of a know-it-when-you-hear-it band that comes along once in a while, whose uniqueness is felt immediately, and the best part is that they manage to keep it up the whole way through. A truly stellar debut.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: DRY CLEANING – NEW LONG LEG