Like many a great band before them, when Wet Leg arrived at our collective consciousness there was an audible head scratch. ‘Chaise Longue‘ was the kind of debut single that could have easily flopped amid its impossible-to-avoid sardonic sneer. The song was, at some points, almost comical for its deadpan delivery and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and therefore had the ability to fly past the music world like a glittering candelabra on the Generation Game. If that reference has managed to soar over your head then chances are this is the only record you’ll need this year: Wet Leg have come out fighting with an era-defining album.
Thankfully, when Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, the duo at the core of Isle of Wight’s own Wet Leg, did manage to get their novelty-adjacent single onto the airwaves everybody got the joke. Yes, they were being deliberately comical, in the way only art-flecked pop-rock can, but with a viral hit under their belts, they now had a much larger task at hand. They were sent back to the studio to work on a set of songs that we’re fairly certain will shape rock and roll for years to come.
It may sound like a bold claim. In reality, what band has really made a difference in the decline of the genre since Arctic Monkeys gave us a taste of a wet and wild weekend? Olivia Rodrigo’s recent pop-punk revolution is about as close as we can get and that is certainly not without its issues. But, Wet Leg not only have the style, the wit and the guile to light such a petrol-soaked rag and the end of the Molotov music cocktail, but with this set of songs, they also have the arsenal to launch them into the waiting crowd of Gen-Z onlookers hoping for sonic destruction.
Opening the self-titled album with ‘Being In Love’ is a perfect aperitif to the highly-flavoured meal to follow. Blitzed with pop sensibilities but never losing the charismatic kernel of snarky punk and art-rock nuance, the song is a wondrous distillation of the band, “I try to meditate but I just medicate, pour me another drink don’t wanna have to think, I think I lost my shit, some kind of fucked up drip, I kinda like it cos, it feels like being in love,” is about as close to perfect thumb-twiddling lyricism as one can hope to find. However, it is the delicacy with which the duo relay their intellectual irreverence that makes the album feel truly special.
Singles such as ‘Chaise Longue, ‘Ur Mum’, ‘Too Late Now’ and ‘Oh No’ all share the common thread of feeling universal and inherently authentic. All similarly balanced between a sleazy spirit and ultimately clean production, there’s a sense that Teasedale and Chambers are fare more astute than their professed “country bumpkin” lives may suggest.
Throughout the album, topics of gender equality, mass extinction and the existential dread of approaching the big 3-0 are as joyously bandied around as the rejection of masturbatory celebrations and being stoned in supermarkets. It’s not all arthouse indie rock either. There are some subtler moments on the album too. The psychedelic ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Out’ is one of the album’s highlights and not just because of the doff of the cap to David Bowie’s ‘Man Who Sold The World‘. ‘Oh No’ does a grand job of exploring the purgatory of infinitely scrolling through our lives while ‘Loving You’ has some of the album’s cleverest lyrics.
It would be at this point that we would usually attempt to categorise Wet Leg’s debut LP. Trying to distil an entire record to even the most niche of sub-genres usually works as a commendation of one’s critical thinking. However, there is something wholly impossible to ascertain about this album. It has the gin-like slosh of a pop band, the tequila mornings of art-rock and the whiskey-soaked hellishness of first-wave punk all shaken up together in an eco-friendly tumbler. Like all cocktails, the mere suggestion of such flavours may make your stomach churn but within one sip you’re already eyeing up the dancefloor.
Of course, with an album so distinctly placed within the framework of a post-pandemic world, there is a chance that the Wet Leg’s debut LP could age like lettuce. Songs with such a potent place on the musical landscape can easily be forgotten. However, with Wet Leg there is a feeling that this album is only the beginning, the first stepping stone to becoming a band of the ages. Wet Leg may well be the perfect assortment of sarcasm, style and slick grooves to make them Gen-Z favourites, but their values are timeless.