Introduced to me by one of my best friends and most trusted sources for rock music of all kinds, South London post-punk band Dry Cleaning have released a stellar, captivating new album titled New Long Leg. The group consists of Nick Buxton on drums, Tom Dowse on guitar, Lewis Maynard on bass and Florence Shaw on vocals. Their new 10-track album is their most ambitious work to date, with catchy, guitar-driven riffs, slick bass lines that keep things groovy and infectious throughout, dynamic drumming that keep the pace alive, and Florence’s deadpan, almost spoken word-like delivery that showcases her wit and introspection to perfection, with relatable lyrics that work perfectly in conjunction with the frantic energy around her voice. Each track brings its own distinct charm, and the group’s chemistry throughout the 41 minutes on this album is what makes it such a memorable listen.
“Scratchcard Lanyard”, the album opener, brings fiery guitar leads that is complemented by a groovy bass line, adding a dance-heavy vibe that perfectly complements Florence’s spoken piece. Already, Florence’s wit and humour comes to life, with sentences like “Weak arms can’t open the door, kung fu cancel /
It’ll be okay, I just need to be weird and hide for a bit and eat an old sandwich from my bag” and “I think of myself as a hardy banana with that waxy surface and the small delicate flowers / A woman in aviators firing a bazooka / A woman in aviators firing a bazooka”. Her deadpan delivery comes across as sarcastic and self-deprecating, making her such a joy to listen to in general. The Nirvana-like guitar riffs on “Unsmart Lady” work brilliantly with Florence’s vocals, which are beautifully intertwined with the heavy soundscape behind her. What I find so captivating about this track and the album as a whole is that at times I genuinely feel as if Florence’s vocals were laid down first, allowing the band to work around her vocals. I’m not sure if that’s how they recorded these tracks, but the way her vocals just blend seamlessly with the rest of the group is just mesmerizing. The harsh guitar leads on “Strong Feelings” are fantastic, while the electronic beat on “Leafy” perfectly complements the infectious guitar leads on that track, and hypnotic vocals that almost act as an instrument. The dynamic groove of “Her Hippo” is incredible to me as well, as Florence sounds oddly pissed of on the chorus here – “Strong one, great one / The man above, a name, a word / I’m smiling constantly and people constantly step on me”. The heavy bass lines on “John Wick” are overpowering and make me just wanna jump up and break shit, while the smoother and more subdued melody on “More Big Birds” is a welcome change of pace from the slightly more dominant and perhaps aggressive sounds prior, and “A.L.C” continues the slower-paced vibe, despite the harsh and distorted vocals guitar leads throughout. The album closer “Every Day Carry” builds up with psychedelic guitar leads, dominant bass lines, infectious drumming and Florence’s conversational delivery, and goes into this frantic, distorted guitar sound that continues to permeate through the track and take full control. It’s an odd but captivating moment. The track bursts into life again afterwards, with Florence proclaiming “Now it seems like none of that meant anything”. And the grooves from that point just continued until the very end. A truly incredible way to end such an interesting and mesmeric new album.
I would summarise the album myself, but one of the leading comments on their Bandcamp page states the following:
“In post-punk, there is an inherent expectation for the singing to be at times – unconventional. The heavy lifting then falls on how distinct the voice is of the singer. Luckily for Dry Cleaning they have found just that in Florence Shaw. A voice that could be heard in a crowded pub and you would will your ears to cut through the noise and hold on to each and every word. It’s a casual, cool AF delivery that helps Dry Cleaning fully take shape – like the last piece of Voltron.”
It’s that charm she brings, plus the explosive energy from Nick Buxton, Tom Dowse and Lewis Maynard that keep the energy of their music alive. New Long Leg is a captivating new post-punk album that combines heavy guitar-led energy with more subdued, static vocals that are equally as mesmeric as any other band I’ve listened to this year. A fiery yet isolating new album that gives 2021 a fitting soundtrack. Well worth the listen indeed!