I’ve a funny feeling that Long Leg, the debut album released by Dry Cleaning back in April 2021, will feature in many end-of-year round-ups across all sorts of media.
Consisting of vocalist Florence Shaw, guitarist Tom Dowse, bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton, they formed in London in 2018. Within a year, they were being mentioned in dispatches across many blogs and websites, with musical comparisons being made to many of the very best of the post-punk groups such as Wire, Magazine and Joy Division, while an NME feature in late 2019, on the back of a debut EP, name checked more recent groups such as Sleaford Mods and Art Brut. American reviews have cited heavier influences such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
All the reviews, no matter who was being cross-referenced in terms of the music, would unsurprisingly home in on the vocal delivery, much of which consists of spoken word rather than singing, pointing out how Florence Shaw seemed to calmly and almost dispassionately recite monologues, often of a personal nature as if being read from a diary, in a way that made Dry Cleaning stand apart from most emerging indie guitar bands. And while the idea of a frontwoman talking rather than singing isn’t an entirely new one – think Flying Lizards back in the 80s, Lydia Lunch and the times when the great Grace Jones has done similar – it does require a certain amount of style and chutzpah to really pull it off.
I think it has to be pointed out, certainly as far as I’m concerned, that Dry Cleaning would still be an interesting band to listen to, even if there was a more conventional front person, as the music is catchy and rhythmic, packed with hooks and riffs that will have your toes tapping and your head nodding in appreciation.
But there is no getting away from the fact that the unconventional nature of the lyrical delivery is what truly elevates the band above their peers. She sounds, to steal a phrase from the t-shirt band era, ‘Cool As Fuck’, at times very dismissive of the mundane world that surrounds her, in a style not all different from Jarvis Cocker. Whether it all has the capacity to sustain things over an extended period remains to be seen, but for now, getting your hands on a copy of Long Leg, if you haven’t done so already, is well worth it.
As with Hadda Be, last week’s Xmas recommendation, the record was produced by John Parish, long known for his work with PJ Harvey, and who more often than not 100% guarantees a wonderfully made record. It was released by 4AD Records and should be available in all your half-decent indie stores wherever you live. Failing that, you can click here to be taken to the official website and spend your money that way. I can vouch that the yellow vinyl is very pretty to look at as it rotates on the turntable here at Villain Towers.
Oh, and that unexpected but welcome news I trailed yesterday……I’m not quite cleared to go public. Should be good to go in 24 hours.