Wet Leg are particularly gifted at conveying the cluttered uncertainty of attraction; see “Wet Dream,” which balances mockery like “What makes you think you’re good enough to think of me when you touch yourself?” with flashing offers to come home and see Buffalo 66 on DVD. They are just as good at depicting the fallout from a fracture; see “Clock Mother,” to which Teasdale declares, “When I think of what you’ve become, I feel sorry for your mother,” and counts down to a piercing clock cry. On “I Don’t Wanna Go Out”, she beats herself up on self-destructive tendencies (“And now I’m almost 28, still away from my stupid face”), only to become defensive when an ex makes similar criticisms of ” Oh no.” The album is far from just a series of punchlines, but a filled universe with deliberately flawed protagonists. Wet Leg even escapes guard now and then, as on the heartbreaking “Loving You” and the shattered “Piece Of Shit”. And then there’s the record’s sweeping grand finale.
“Too Late Now” is a slowly built-up powerhouse, dreamy and moody and hymn-like, while struggling with indecision in the face of a shaky world. When it was released last year, it proved that Wet Leg was far more versatile than the two fools “Chaise Longue” and “Wet Dream” had suggested. Still, the song’s response to life’s problems – “I just need a hot tub to sit on a higher path” – is the kind of line that has undoubtedly led some of Wet Leg’s critics to decide they’re indie-rock the equivalent of a Pinterest-finished embroidered pillow. The band has often been framed as the more basic and accommodating feature of a wave of talkative British guitar bands such as Dry Cleaning, Yard Act and Sports Team – a comparison they have not necessarily advised against by hiring Fontaine’s DC / Squid / Black Midi producer Dan . Carey on the bulk of their album. But they also hired the legendary Alan Moulder to make the mix, underscoring their connection to the established alt-rock cannon. Far more than invaders drawing a trend, Wet Legs album positions them as one of those acts gifted enough to transcend their moment, and instead exists in continuum with the classics.
A large portion of 60s pop echoes back through Wet Leg’s music: pronounced influences on Ronettes and Jane Birkin, but also mods like Kinks and the 90s Britpop scene that inspired them – such as Pulp and Elastica and Blur, with their mighty hooks and skewed social commentary. Groovy post-punk pioneers like Slits and Delta 5 are in the mix, as are dance-rock descendants like Franz Ferdinand and LCD Soundsystem. The slanted pop genius of slacker-rock-kings Pavement, the mechanistic coolness of other fast lightning rods The Strokes, Haim’s sisterhood, the B-52’s new wave party atmosphere, the Pixies’ surf-rock, Courtney Barnett’s detached description – all this and more can heard in Wet legss dozen numbers. But rarely does a point of reference overshadow the band’s own instantly sharpened identity, other than perhaps when they borrow the guitar line from “The Man Who Sold The World.”
For a while, I did not understand the extreme reactions to Wet Leg. On the one hand, the killjoys who are so aggravated by the band’s success overnight seem to lack the ability to have fun at all. On the other hand, I certainly thought of “Chaise Longue” as a fleeting lark and was surprised when Wet Leg blew up so big so fast. But on stage at a mid-sized club in Columbus last month, their melodic dynamics stood out. The sold-out audience not only reacted to “Chaise Longue” – they jumped together for hit after soon hit, sang and danced and smiled in a way you don’t always get from buzz bands. The album crystallizes that sensation, adding just enough polish to these women’s formidable talent and charisma without undermining their home-made charm. Wet Leg does not carry itself as an important band, but with such a magnetic album, they become significant in spite of themselves. I hope they continue to annoy their haters for a very long time.
Wet legs is out 4/8 on Domino.
Other notable albums out this week:
• Father John Mistys Chloe and the next 20th centurywhich we will soon take a stand on
• Jack Whites Fear of dawnwhich, ditto
• Syds Broken hearts club
• Vince Staples’ Ramona Park broke my heart
• Grizzly Bear member Daniel Rossen’s debut solo album You belong there
• Billy Woods & Preservation’s Ethiopians
• Teenage buzz band Linda Lindas’ Grow up
• Kae Tempest’s The line is a curve
• Orville Pecks BRONCO
• Camila Cabello’s Family
• HEALTH DISCO4 :: PART II
• Girl Talk, Wiz Khalifa, Big KRIT, Smoke DZA’s Full Court Press
• The self-titled debut of Loraine James’ ambient project Whatever The Weather
• Lucius’ Other Nature
• Calexico’s The spectator
• Oceanator’s Nothing is ever fine
• Pendant Harp
• Deer scouts Woodpecker
• Wet tuna Distortion entirely by yourself
• Renata Zeiguers Picnic in the dark
• Romeros Turn it on!
• John Vanderslice’s first album as ORANGEPURPLEBEACH, d SPIS h ~ b U g
• The Regrettes’ Additional joy
• Pictoria Pigs Parts I dread
• Michelle Willis’ Only one vote
• The vaccines The Planet of Youth
• Omar Apollo’s IVORY
• Inside ‘ Curse to the sun, weep over rain
• Annie Blackmans All
• BANKER ‘ coil
• Pavements deluxe reissue Terror Twilight: Goodbye Horizontal
• That All at once soundtrack
• Rosie Thomas’ Lullaby for parents, volume 1 EP
• Andy Partridge’s My Failed Songwriting Career – Vol 2 EP