One of Paste’s most-anticipated 2021 releases is officially on its way with the announcement that Dry Cleaning—that is, London’s Nick Buxton (drums), Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass) and Florence Shaw (vocals)—will release their debut album New Long Leg on April 2 via 4AD. The U.K. post-punk quartet’s latest single and video, “Strong Feelings,” is out today (Feb. 9), as well, the second preview of their first full-length following November 2020’s “Scratchcard Lanyard.”
Dry Cleaning are well on their way to buzz-band status, with a pair of acclaimed 2019 EPs under their belts, Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks and Sweet Princess, and a distinctive sound that overlays agile, engaging post-punk instrumentation with Shaw’s hypnotic speak-singing and deadpan lyrics. Their music is idiosyncratic and accessible at the same time, with a certain mystery at its heart—only enhanced on their debut by the involvement of English producer John Parish, best-known for his work with PJ Harvey—that keeps you wondering which left turn they’ll take next. Their forthcoming album’s name reflects just that, as Shaw points out: “The title is ambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.”
Titles can also be deceiving, though: Dry Cleaning’s new song may be called “Strong Feelings,” but it sounds more as if Shaw’s narrator is descending into numbness and apathy, murmuring at more than one point, “Too much to ask about / So don’t ask”—she’s inundated to the point of emptiness, just like on “Scratchcard Lanyard” (one of Paste’s top songs of 2020), on which Shaw urged, “Do everything and feel nothing.” Buxton’s 4/4 beat and Maynard’s busy bassline lay a foundation for Dowse’s increasingly caustic guitars and Shaw’s jaded observations, the latter of which wander so widely, even the singer herself acknowledges it (“Just an emo dead stuff collector / Things come to the brain,” she shrugs).
A press release describes “Strong Feelings” as “a love song of sorts,” and Shaw specifies in a statement, “It’s about secretly being in love with someone who doesn’t know it, and Brexit’s disruptive role in romantic relationships.” But there’s far more than that on her mind here, not to mention on the rest of the album—the same presser lists “dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness and survival” among New Long Leg’s lyrical themes. Many of these appear on “Strong Feelings,” which references “The Girl from Ipanema” and a 16th-century oil painting, and finds Shaw pondering geophysics and a pricy mushroom purchase, a hot dog and “holy week,” the desire to be liked and the desire to be with someone you like. It’s all so overwhelming, which is precisely the point.
Meanwhile, the music video, directed by Dowse, combines a informational video made in New Zealand about the basics of road building with the work of Massachusetts-based glitch artist Sabato Visconti. The clip begins with lightly augmented visuals of the flow and construction of roads, the veins of civilized society, but grows increasingly glitched-out as it progresses, swerving in and out of abstraction, only to end on an image of trees being destroyed by a backhoe to make way for … us.
Watch the “Strong Feelings” video below and find the details of New Long Leg further down. You can preorder the record right here.
New Long Leg Album Art:
New Long Leg Tracklist:
01. Scratchcard Lanyard
02. Unsmart Lady
03. Strong Feelings
05. Her Hippo
06. New Long Leg
07. John Wick
08. More Big Birds
10. Every Day Carry