YOU could forgive London post-punk revivalists Dry Cleaning for being overwhelmed by their debut album.
From their inception there was no ambition behind the four-piece, which merge a taut and angular Joy Division vibe with the monotone spoken-word delivery of frontwoman Florence Shaw.
Dry Cleaning was purely a fun creative project for creativity's sake from four 30-somethings who already had various outlets in orbit. But Dry Cleaning caught fire with Magic Of Meghan, their ode to the Duchess of Sussex.
It continued with the EPs Sweet Princess (2019) and Boundary Snacks and Drinks (2019) and suddenly Dry Cleaning were a British buzz band following in the wake of other post-punk revivalists Idles and Shame.
Dry Cleaning arrive at their debut album New Long Leg with a more expansive palette. The factory-precision basslines of Joy Division's She's Lost Control remain, but Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass) and Nick Buxton (drums) have also added the jangly swagger of REM on Her Hippo.
At the heart of Dry Cleaning's appeal is the paradox between the music and Shaw's spoken vocal. The music is in constant flux - pushing, pulling and flexing its muscle with flashes of movement. Meanwhile, Shaw's delivery is unaffected by the tension. Only her subtle vocal inflections reveal the cynical humour within.
Shaw's lyrics make fascinating dissection. They read like a collage of observations about the peculiarities and ordinariness of real life.
On Strong Feelings she describes recollections of an old affair with, "Just an emo dead stuff collector/ Things come to the brain/ I spent £17 on mushrooms for you/ Because I'm silly." There's also witty one-liners like, "I'd like to run away with you on a plane but don't bring those loafers," on Her Hippo.
Within the absurdity there's also seriousness. Scratchcard Lanyard tells the tale of a frustrated mother who is paralyzed to, "do everything and feel nothing."
That's the real beauty of Dry Cleaning and New Long Leg. They're a band, and this is an album, which only exposes all its layers through repeat listens.