Buoyed by the popularity of last year’s viral hit single ‘Chaise Longue’, Wet Leg have quickly become one of the most exciting new bands in the country. The Isle of Wight duo, consisting of vocalist Rhian Teasdale and guitarist Hester Chambers, have enjoyed critical and commercial success for their quirky, playful brand of indie pop. It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses for the pair, however. Their critics have accused them of being an ‘industry plant’ — an act that, despite a seemingly organic, DIY image, in fact has the financial backing of major record labels. Given that the band was able to garner millions of streams even when they only had two songs to their name, those claims may not have been entirely wide of the mark. Ultimately, though, whether they are or not is irrelevant. When the resulting record is this good, who cares?
The UK indie scene in recent years has been dominated by bleak, moody post-punk bands, with the likes of Squid and Dry Cleaning becoming darlings of the music press. Though these acts have produced some excellent music, it’s refreshing to see a new band enter the fray who actively refuse to take themselves too seriously. The lyrics of the relentlessly catchy ‘Chaise Longue’, for instance, are unabashedly silly: “I went to school and I got a degree / All my friends call it the big D / I went to school and I got the big D”. Not exactly Bob Dylan, but then they never claim to be — they’re just having fun. Even the rare dark moments here are laced with morbid humour: “At least we are all going to die”, Teasdale shrugs on the Bowie-esque ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Out’, as if it were the most mundane thought imaginable.
Elsewhere, disco-hued single ‘Wet Dream’ sees Teasdale taking tongue in cheek jabs at an overly-attached ex-boyfriend: “What makes you think you’re good enough to think about me / when you’re touching yourself?”, she asks, over a deliciously danceable bassline.
The standout track, though, is the shimmering ‘Angelica’. A bouncing guitar riff accompanies Teasdale’s vocals as she expresses a sentiment relatable to anyone who’s ever found themselves at a party, caught in a conversation they’d rather leave: “I don’t want to follow you on the gram / I don’t want to listen to your band / I don’t know why I haven’t left yet / Don’t want none of this”. Suddenly, crunching guitars explode into life and an almost robotic Teasdale begins to repeat a simple, sarcastic chorus: “Good times / All the time”.
Given the frankly absurd level of buzz that Wet Leg received from the music press in the build up to release of this debut album, I had my fears that they couldn’t possibly deliver on their promise. Somehow, though, they have managed to do just that, with an album packed with earworms and quotable lyrics in equal measure. Sure, Wet Leg may not reinvent the wheel here, but they craft a decidedly good one nonetheless.
Harry Featherston is a second-year English student and LSM’s Chief Arts and Culture Editor. You can find him on Twitter here.