[sic] Magazine

Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg

The world that South London post-punks Dry Cleaning inhabit is one of crushing routine, creeping paranoia and the minutiae of agoraphobic living. The essential soundtrack to lockdown life then? Yes, as New Long Leg is not only relatable, it’s also witty, deeply intelligent and – with Flo Shaw’s unique tumble of near-spoken-word the undisputed selling point – a wonderfully peculiar proposition to boot.

There are theses to be written on Shaw’s lyrics, a confetti of scribblings that variously include British confectionary and oven chips, choruses built out of advertising campaigns, knitting, the expense of farmers’ market mushrooms, cleaning fat out of the grill pan, fit boys and fatbergs, not to mention rhetorical asides such as “would you choose a dentist with a messy back garden?” Shaw’s delivery is a science unto itself too, forever changing her tempo, finding weird slant rhymes, pausing for breath, filling bars with syntactically null disfluencies, as well as emphatic repeats. Her dry words hang wherever they fall, on beat, off beat, drawn out, spat out, largely monotone, but anything but monochrome. And when Shaw does swear – and she does, deadpan, delightfully – it thus stings all the more.

The fairly minimal, but very effective musical template that guitarist Tom Dowse, drummer/percussionist Nick Buxton, and bassist Lewis Maynard lay down gives Shaw all the room she needs and she makes use of every corner. Listen to her street poetry on “Strong Feelings” as, over ticking motorik, she over-emphasises the words “hot dog”, sounding sensual beyond the obvious phallic connotations, the nagging concern a meal may contain too much garlic later initially throwaway content but equally indispensable from an artistic point of view.

New Long Leg’s songs are more ambitious than the ear-catching EPs that preceded it, a product of growing confidence, relatively straightforward lead single “Scratchcard Lanyard” using its chunky bass riff, skittering percussion and taught guitar angles to whip Shaw’s everyday ephemera into frothy peaks. It’s unstable yet arresting stuff, feedback and uneasy melodies adding depth elsewhere. “More Big Birds” is more adventurous, a barebones funk jostling Shaw’s jumbled word order, a stereophonic echo making her words oddly sinister against serene guitar tempering and lazy-days, do-do-doo ditties, insouciance peppered with the literal inclusion of a Kalashnikov. The closing track further pushes the envelope, a woozy synth undulating below the mix, the 7-minute track dropping out into staticky experimentalism, shockingly nude devoid of Shaw, only to return with renewed vigour. It’ll be a neat gig closer when live-shows return, guitars left propped against the amp in squealing protest, New Long Leg a sensory weapon in waiting.

Best track: “Scratchcard Lanyard”

~New Long Leg is released April 2nd 2021 via 4AD.~