South London quartet Dry Cleaning deserve the hype.
Their breakthrough record, 2021’s New Long Leg, presents a tightly-wound anomaly, surreal and thrilling in its 42 minutes of post-punk. The exact kind of music that wouldn’t necessarily translate well to stage.
Assumptions were quickly squashed, mind you, with the band’s inaugural Canadian show at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern. Inside amidst the sold-out excitement, drummer Nick Buxton, guitarist Tom Dowse, and bassist Lewis Maynard all generated twitchy, dexterous rock, laying the foundation for the band’s secret ingredient.
Onstage front-woman Florence Shaw, equal parts spoken-word poet and singer, weaved her wordplay of non-sequiturs into a hypnotic stream of consciousness babble.
On the evening’s standout “Scratchcard Lanyard” her delivery of mundanity elevated lyrics such as: “I think of myself as a hearty banana/ With that waxy surface/ And small delicate flowers/ A woman in aviators firing a bazooka.”
Oddball to be sure, somehow it coalesced into a nervy, infectious stew. It was also an attention-grabbing approach. From songs “Hey Hippo” to “Leafy” Dry Cleaning’s male musicians created restlessness in their raw clamour. By contrast, Shaw’s mousy, hunched, laconic presence, came off as disarming and brilliant.
Put on or not, the band was playing with something special. Electric, even. And everyone there felt it.