New Long Leg
“Strong Feelings” opens with maybe a drum machine, maybe a shaky egg and a Closer bass line and Florence Shaw’s almost subliminal Kim Gordon whisper, like an orderly talking Mark E. Smith down after an episode, and then a guitar streaks across the sky eventually culminating in a Psychedelic Furs-grade chiming refrain. In other words, Dry Cleaning has melted down the tape case of my youth to fashion a bobblehead statue of me now. A talisman so perfect it cannot be bought, only shoplifted.
The Spotify bio for this buzz band is in entirety “Dry Cleaning are a 4-piece from South London.” - understanding that to the ears of a once and steadfast phile of Anglo rock, this speaks volumes. I actually don’t know what London is like, having been there twice on vacation weekends, but this feels LONDON as I imagined it in the 80s, dreaming from my swampy backwater of trenchcoats and choruses-heavy guitars. Gray-ish, rail-skinny. Desperate yet fully catered to. “Unsmart Lady” my ass. She knows exactly what she’s up to.
Shaw’s spoken lyrics are so integrated with the band they are a texture, a mood, a gel on a footlight coloring the grind in human hues.So perfectly coupled that in “Her Hippo” when she yelps a “Ha Ha!” it’s startling. Like someone breaking a glass. Her voice is pitched right in between overhearing a drunk two stools over and the muttering in one of those BBC Beckett productions on YouTube. If you are the type who has longed for the former and watched the latter during the lockdown, Dry Cleaning is the band for you.
It is tempting to cast them as a softened Fontaines DC or an ASMR Pretenders or an updated/backdated Arab Strap or another new band who has fallen into the Anish Kapoor-like black hole of the Fall’s perpetual reissue schemes, but I am open to the idea that Dry Cleaning is largely unaware of such reference points because the connection of all the parts is so seamless. The title track explores something about things being “sometimes like this” but you feel it is always like this with them. A perfect over-pint conversation that fills the room like floodwater. The only way to not overstate is to understate.
Here is their mesmerizing performance for KEXP