Review: Wet Leg’s self-titled debut is an absolute blast
Hailing from the Isle of Wight, UK duo Wet Leg appeared out of nowhere in June of 2021 with their debut single, "Chaise Longue." Almost no one had heard of them, and they had played only four shows, but somehow they were already signed to Domino. This might set off red flags amongst the cynical but it's hard to frown while listening to "Chaise Longue," a cheeky earworm loaded with double entendres, Clueless references and endless hooks. It was even harder to dislike when watching the song's equally stylish and witty music video featuring the band's Rhian Teasdale (who also directed the clip) and Hester Chambers executing high-kicking choreography in 1980s-style prairie dresses.
"Chaise Longue" was an instant sensation and it would be a while, at least in today's current instant gratification climate, till we'd get another song. Nearly four months with just one song to listen to and during that time, "Chaise Longue" and Wet Leg kept rising. When they played Green Man Festival in August 2021, still with just the one song people could listen to, they were met with a packed tent of expectant fans anxious to hear what else they had.
Turns out they had a lot more. Wet Leg have dribbled out songs -- including "Wet Dream," "Angelica" and "Ur Mum" -- in the nine months since, all of which are full of sticky choruses, fuzzy guitars and tongue-in-cheek humor. And their popularity has only grown, having just finished a sold out North American tour -- including NYC's 2000-capacity Brooklyn Steel -- all still without having released their debut album. It's the kind of hype that doesn't really exist anymore, not since the mid-'00s indie renaissance that gave us Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys (both who are on Domino). Their sound, post-punk influenced, danceable and poppy, would've fit right in then, too.
Teasdale and Chambers seem to be as surprised by their success as everyone else. Having both been in other, more "serious" groups, they formed Wet Leg in late 2019 with the simple goal of having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. Their name came from typing two random emojis, and "Chaise Longue" was the first song they wrote together. Teasdale told The New York Times, "The moment we stopped trying to make anyone else happy and did a band for the joy of playing and hanging out, that’s when..."
The hype is probably not going to stop anytime soon, as Wet Leg's self-titled debut is an absolute blast, 12 songs that could all be singles -- nearly half of them have been already -- that show off their way with new wavey hooks, melody, and clever wordplay. These are expertly crafted pop songs played with casual charm, loads of energy and palpable joy, that seem to pull equal influence from Kim Deal and Debbie Harry.
Wet Leg plays like a snapshot of your mid-to-late-20s, when hangovers start to get worse but don't stop you from going out all the time, and you start looking for more serious relationships while still wanting to shag everything that moves, and questioning the direction your life is heading -- all set to ridiculously catchy indie rock. Songs are peppered with memorable, saucy lines -- "Baby do you want to come home with me? / I've got Buffalo 66 on DVD," "I hope you choke on your girlfriend," "I got the big D" -- but Wet Leg know the value of a "la la la" or "ah-eeh-ah" chorus, too.
The production, mostly by the in-demand Dan Carey with mixing by Alan Moulder (he did all your favorite '90s shoegaze albums), isn't scared of layers upon layers of sound -- "Angelica" builds to a wonderful hazy, noisy mess, and "Convincing" (Chambers' sole lead vocal here) is a sea of guitars and harmonies -- but they understand sometimes all you need is bass and drums. Hooks are plentiful and sometimes come in the form of seemingly throwaway pings and glitches, and keep things interesting in the choruses, verses and middle eights.
While there's not much in the way of soloing (not a criticism), there is plenty of rocking out. Wet Leg really understand the power and fun of the loud-quiet-loud dynamic and make great use of it across the whole album. Nearly every song uses this to some extent, but they vary the approach so it doesn't feel like following a recipe. This may be Teasdale and Chambers' real strength, taking tried and true tropes and making them feel new. They're not reinventing the wheel, but at times they make it seem like you've never seen round things before.
Perhaps most impressive of all is that, nine months later, "Chaise Longue" still sounds great. Thankfully that's not the only option anymore.
Grab the Wet Leg album on yellow vinyl and pick up the "Chaise Longue" 7" too.