Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando
Only the most hardened of cynics could resist the charm of Wet Leg’s breakout single “Chaise Longue” – filled with euphemisms, deadpan put-downs, and Mean Girls quotes. The band’s rapid rise – with just a handful of songs to their name, they managed to sell-out shows across the world and appeared on multiple late-night US TV shows – inspired skepticism and cries of “industry plant”. But the most obvious explanation for their meteoric rise is simply that the world has been crying out for a band like this – one that makes unserious, genuinely funny, effortlessly cool music. Amidst the backdrop of Britain’s often insufferably self-serious indie scene, it’s hard to overstate how much the entrance of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers onto the stage felt like a breath of fresh air.
Each pre-release single for the duo’s self-titled debut revealed new dimensions of their songwriting talent. There was, of course, “Wet Dream” – a Sleater-Kinney Esque triumph, “Too Late Now” – a Thelma and Louise style epic – and, “Angelica” – the best soundtrack to the worst party you’ve ever been to.
On Wet Leg’s deep cuts – which compose exactly 50% of the full album – Teasdale and Chambers settle into the comfortable groove of propulsive, hook-heavy indie rock. Given the idiosyncrasies of the lead singles, the creeping sense of predictability that kicks in around the halfway point is a tad disappointing. But in terms of establishing a consistent, cohesive sound, they could’ve gone for a lot worse. After navigating a rich array of sounds on their first songs, Wet Leg ultimately finds a sweet spot between classic rock, 2000s indie, and modern-day post-punk.
While Wet Leg’s early singles were doggedly unserious, across the rest of the album, the duo prove themselves surprisingly adept at earnestly deconstructing the plights of being a twenty-something. “Piece of Shit” tackles painful breakups, misogyny, and the toxic exes who keep stubbornly finding ways back into your life and into your head (“Alright, I’m such a slut // Alright, whatever helps you sleep at night”). “Convincing” confronts destabilizing paranoia (“They’re outside of my house right now”), while “I Don’t Wanna Go Out” hones in on depression and the gulf between the expectations and reality of adulthood (“Now I’m almost 28 // Still getting off my stupid face”). The album also wouldn’t be complete without the instant highlight “Angelica”; which tells of the many tedious people you come across in your twenties (“I don’t wanna follow you on the gram // I don’t wanna listen to your band”).
Teasdale and Chambers are both hugely impressive songwriters – the sort who seem destined to become very in-demand very quickly – and it’s a testament to their deft, decisive lyricism that they can consistently find the right balance between expressing genuine unease and malaise and injecting moments of levity and humor. “Supermarket” finds the duo high in the supermarket and oscillates between the horror of realizing you’re too far out in a public place and the absurd joy that comes with that; one of the album’s most hilarious moments has to be the chant-like cry of “it was buy one get one free” in the third verse.
While, on “Angelica”, they sing of feeling trapped in an endless party with claustrophobia-inducing intensity and decry the illusion of “good times all the time”, but still find space for some of the funniest and most relatable observations on the album (“I don’t know what I’m even doing here // I was told that there would be free beer”). It’s this sort of razor-sharp writing that ensures that even if the good times won’t last forever, they also aren’t set to end any time soon for Britain’s buzziest new band.