South London quartet Dry Cleaning emerged at roughly the same time as black midi and Black Country, New Road, all three at the vanguard of a revived scene which many years ago was sometimes referred to – with some cynicism – as “indie”. Other than timing however any links musically are tenuous; whilst both the latter are on occasions seemingly happy to push the boundaries of what supposedly guitar based music can sound like, Dry Cleaning vocalist Flo Shaw, guitarist Tom Dowse, bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton have a different narrative.
Not that this means the band’s approach is orthodox; Shaw was for many years prior to joining the trio a visual artist who collected random strings of disassociated phrasing to accompany the imagery she used; these fragments are looped together to form lyrics which are baffling, hilarious or satirical, sometimes all at once. To complement this Dowse, who has a past with various hardcore bands, adds a muscular guitar unafraid to counter any accusations of their work being simply art for arts sake.
There are few things simple about New Long Leg – even the title is Shaw has admitted deliberately ambiguous. But on songs like Scratchcard Lanyard, Unsmart Lady and Every Day Carry it has a hard post punk and rock edge that, countered by deadpan vocals, gel to make a glorious messy collision of pretense and mischief. It’s not only rock n’ roll – but you’ll like it.
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