Dry Cleaning New Long Leg 4AD
As established on 2019 EPs Sweet Princess and Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks, Dry Cleaning’s appeal lies in the strange symbiosis between Tom Dowse’s tightly-coiled guitar riffs and frontwoman Florence Shaw’s languid-bordering-on-listless lyricism. On debut album New Long Leg, the south London quartet further exploit that tension by broadening their palette, experimenting with an array of guitar textures, as well as thrillingly tinny drum machines and pointillist basslines, placed prominently in the mix.
The frazzled garage of Unsmart Lady is a standout – like an art school OSEES – as is the Johnny Marr-ish jangle of the title track. Significantly, this variety only serves to sharpen your focus on Shaw’s increasingly surreal stream of consciousness, which is packed full of visual cues every bit evocative as the imagery she studies in her day job as a picture researcher and drawing lecturer.
Though the initial sketches for this record predate the pandemic, lockdown life has definitely added a manic edge to Shaw’s monologues. Resisting the temptation to rose-tint recollections of freedoms temporarily lost, on Leafy she sounds as jaded recounting “knackering drinks with close friends” as she does “an exhausting walk in the horrible countryside”. On Every Day Carry she announces “I’m confused”, having just delivered a sprawling list of non-sequiturs. Best of all is John Wick, where she decides to dissect the appeal of ancient UK television format Antiques Roadshow, chiding “the reason the price reveals were so good was because we had to wait for them”. It’s a line every bit as brilliantly droll and inextricably British as this debut.