An Album for the FUTURE YEAR 2021… a retrospective

Ya-di-ya-da what a year etc etc etc. I feel like what has become a unwanted commodity are yearly summary pieces that start with the exact same preface. Most of them lament some lacking aspect of the past year, or praise some good-ground trodden by their own journalists. It’s basically the same paragraph every time, so I’ll save you the broken record.


In the future year 2021, Sprechgesang is in. The blithe chit-chat come shouty affirmations of bands like BCNR, Black Midi and Squid, are all Radio 6 could bare to talk about this year and most of last.

But while those bands have been taking no-wave in grandiose and genre-bending directions; I’ve had quite an affinity for the simplicity of Dry Cleaning.

I’m not trying to make a huge statement by saying that, this isn’t a “overly complicated bad” piece. But the directness of the band’s sound will either win you over or lose you immediately.

For myself, it was the latter. I had briefly heard their debut EP Sweet Princess, and had loved the tabloid semantics of “Magic of Megan” with it’s sharp guitar riff and thumping levity. But it wasn’t until I saw the band play live that the concept clicked for me.

That concept makes them the quintessential London band for me. Three art school grads, have been playing in post punk bands for a while. They want to start a new project, but can’t find a singer. They set their minds on recruiting a complete novice to music, a woman who’s never played in a band but who’s poetic voice fits their creative vision.

She says no, repeatedly, until they send her a single text:

‘You don’t have to sing. You can just talk.’

The results are kind of hilarious, especially live. Florence Shaw, stands bemused at the microphone, as her accompanying band go mental. She stalks the stage, ducking below the eyeline of her sheet-music stand, to gaze across the throng of people losing their minds with a look boredom.


She talks with an air of indifference that is almost mythical, and it’s been a while since I’ve been converted to a fan of a band almost instantaneously.

It’s probably for this reason that Dry Cleaning‘s newest offering sits so highly in my mind when I think of albums this year. Their identity is fully formed, early in their discography, with a sound that is both radio-friendly and bizarre.

They are a band of many dichotomies. They’re humorous without being a joke, they are accessible without being uninspired, they play like a band that knows what to do to keep you guessing with each song.

Of course, there are bands that play better, are more varied in their talents and have a larger following. But what I think most bands can’t practice, and struggle to perfect, is personality in their music.

Dry Cleaning with New Long Leg, have debuted a record that oozes a unique character, with enough convincing riffs and memorable lines to make me believe guitar music still has hope in simplicity.

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