By Jasper Price, Third Year Theatre and Performance
Indie-pop newcomers Wet Leg release their highly anticipated self-titled debut. A fun, fast-paced record which makes up for its lack of depth with witty lyricism and nostalgic instrumentation.
It took me several listens before I was won over by ‘Wet Leg’. The first time I heard the album, I couldn’t help but compare the Isle of Wight based outfit to their contemporaries. The indie-pop market has become increasingly saturated over the past few years and at first, I couldn’t fathom what new sound could be distinguished here amongst the likes of Newdad, Goat Girl and Porridge Radio. Before the album dropped, the band’s single releases did little to excite me either. As an avid frequenter of Thekla, I have been blasted with the student night go-to ‘Chaise Longue’ for months now, and whilst catchy, the song never made me eager for a full-length LP.
So what changed? Firstly, this is a very well-paced album. Each track comes after the one before with ferocity, and until the track ‘Convincing’, there is little time to breathe in between songs. This makes the record incredibly dynamic; the songs having been clearly very well positioned on the tracklisting. They never outstay their welcome either, with most being around two minutes, thus creating more energy - energy that is only matched with instrumentation. The overall sound that the band deliver feels retro, in part down to the 70’s style guitar hooks and keyboard passages, which hark back to the days of girl punk.
However, the real star of the show is Rhian Teasdale’s vocals, which seem to convey both childlike innocence and a certain sexy promiscuity. On songs like ‘Oh No’ and ‘Angelica’, she has fun with her delivery, letting her unique style guide the narrative of the tracks, whilst the instrumentation seemingly struggles to keep up with her at times. Without her vocals, much of what the band present here would sound stagnant, even generic. The group take few risks sonically, but rather allow the vocals to hook the listener in. For the most part, this works. The song ‘Wet Dream’ is catchy and danceable, with a pleasing call and response chorus that would certainly get a crowd going. There are many incidences of call and response present here, with the chemistry of Teasdale and musical partner Hester Chambers clearly visible.
I also really like ‘I Don’t Want To Go Out’, which deceptively modulates from major to minor, a rollercoaster of emotions cleverly shown through the tonal shifts of the music. There is a similar shift in the song ‘Angelica’, which pieces together different musical passages well. The tracks ‘Piece of S***’ and ‘Supermarket’ give a nice rest bite from the hard-hitting first half, with the latter being a particular favourite of mine, the song adding a certain freshness with its group sung hook.
The album is not without its glaring faults though. The very simple and often juvenile lyricism could be seen as another hark to the band’s influences and does allow the listener to learn the song more effectively. Lots of the lyrics are funny. The line “is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” is a winner. I understand the simplicity of lyrics like this and they are effective in the context of the song.
So today we found out that our debut album has placed at number one in the UK album charts!! It’s been such an unexpected journey for us hobbits so to find our shmalbum at number 1 is incredible!! We are lost for words and left feeling like we’re wearing our mums high heels 👠 pic.twitter.com/1KJJwMaGdA— Wet Leg (@wetlegband) April 15, 2022
However, the lack of depth in the band’s more sombre moments fails to hit the mark at times. Where the group excel is when they are having fun, and perhaps trying to be more sincere is where they fall down. There are also moments of repetition. For example, the main guitar line in ‘Angelica’ appears again in the song ‘Ur Mum’.
These are however all minor criticisms in an album that I thoroughly enjoyed from front to back. This is a record that should be listened to in full, and provides a great deal of entertainment when done so.
Featured image: Domino Recording Company
What do you think of Wet Leg's debut?