Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Dry Cleaning

  • Sweet Princess EP [It's OK EP, 2019] A
  • Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks [It's OK EP, 2019] ***
  • New Long Leg [4AD, 2021] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sweet Princess EP [It's OK EP, 2019]
Call them the Gang of Four of everyday life, not as thrilling or virtuosic but still arrestingly angular up against spoken Florence Shaw lyrics that sound like found prose poems, sometimes because that's precisely what they are--store signs and headlines catalogued for a rainy day, street harangues, Meghan Markle stories you can't shake, missing your grandmother, missing your dead cat even more. A

Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks [It's OK EP, 2019]
On their second six-song EP in just three months of 2019 it sounds as if they may sometimes resort to semi-rejects or experiments gone slightly awry ("Dog Proposal," "Sit Down Meal") ***

New Long Leg [4AD, 2021]
Gang of Four remains more a precedent here than Wire or the Fall (or Mannequin Pussy). But while the clean lines and d'void of funk propulsion are conscious aesthetic choices, those choices are rooted not just in the musicians' tastes but their abilities. And at a higher level the same goes for Florence Shaw's simultaneously plainspoken and poetic lyrics, so that sometimes they merge the quotidian and the surreal and sometimes they just smoosh them up to no notable aesthetic effect. Me, I'm not always a fan of her cool, preferring "Would you choose a dentist with a messy back garden like that?" to "An exhausting walk in the horrible countryside" as I do. But I'm fine with her rhyming vaguely related buzzwords in "Scratchcard Lanyard" or documenting the tiny one-sided cellphone convo "Call Ronny/What've you been up to?/Cool./Yeah." The closer is the relatively epic and also climactic "Every Day Carry," which A-lists not such useful items as flashlights, notebooks, and lethal weapons but such objects, behaviors, and raw abstractions as onions, orchids, diodes, existential crises, chocolate chip cookies, and best friends forever. It goes on for seven finalizing minutes. A-