New Long Leg is London-based band Dry Cleaning’s debut album and it easily was one of the most anticipated releases of 2021 after their pair of excellent EPs released in 2019. It is record of control as the group mesmerizes you with background guitar runs fronted by the modern spoken word poetry of lead singer Florence Shaw. It is an unstoppable combination that just oozes style, spirit and confidence.
At first take, New Long Leg might not sink in and you could find yourself asking what is all the hype about. There are no choruses to sing along, no melodies to hum in your head and honestly you need to look really hard to find what I would consider a standard verse. This was a huge risk but Dry Cleaning inject each track with a post-punk edge that actually brings the listener in closer. When Shaw coolly states on “Strong Feelings” – “I just want to tell you I’ve got scabs on my head / It’s useless to live / I’ve been thinking about eating that hot dog for hours” you take a second thought and question “what the hell did she just say?” These blunt out of nowhere statements fill New Long Leg with multiple brain teasing moments and make every beat worth hearing. In music today, I think it is incredibly hard to hear something new. Artists try all the time but in 2021 most of us feel like we have heard it all somewhere before. Dry Cleaning will surprise you and accomplish that fresh musical awakening with New Long Leg.
On their previous outings, Shaw had some vocal outbursts that would shake things up but now with producer John Parish, Dry Cleaning are playing for keeps with a steady determination. This is the record that is playing in the back of a smoky music hall for VIPs instead of a new band trying to gain attention playing the noon slot to a handful at a festival. This is intelligent post-punk that is worth every hour you dissect it as Dry Cleaning have brought a unique experience that can have multiple endings with each and every satisfying listen.
-Reviewed by Thomas Wilde