Wet’s LP ‘Letter Blue’ is broody, sincere, sad girl fall anthem

Cover of Wet's new album Letter Blue
Other Exotica/Courtesy

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Grade: 3.5/5.0

If the autumnal blues — characterized by the cold and stormy weather, days getting shorter and a desire for sunnier days — were epitomized into sound, then Wet’s third album, Letter Blue, would fit perfectly. The band’s newest release is alternative, bedroom-pop paradise, where lead vocalist Kelly Zutrau’s dreamlike vocals float throughout the 10 tracks on the LP. Pulling from the trio’s Tumblr and teen angst upbringing, the album exudes a vulnerable, even naive sincerity. In short: Letter Blue is a delicate album that transports the listener through past, present and future. 

Since the release of its self-titled EP in 2014, the band has continuously produced “sad girl” anthems that carry the emotion of a stuck-in-the-middle teen. “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” is the group’s most-streamed song on Spotify, and rightfully so, as the breakup anthem would go on to define the Brooklyn-based band’s sound of broody teenage yearning. Letter Blue still carries this, but in a refined way — the album reconciles with these past feelings, evolving them into more mature, clear vocals and beats. Longtime listeners will surely relate, with the newest album closing the chapter of growing up with a band and watching its progression into a sophisticated, mature sound.

Letter Blue begins with the track “On Your Side,” a similar relationship anthem to the group’s past releases that evokes a nostalgic sound. Zutrau’s vocals open the song alongside the calming sound of an owl coo-ing. The four-minute track has an upward progression, where angelic vocals follow behind Zutrau who sounds confident and clear. Lyrics such as “Looking straight ahead and in stride/ Like I told you, I’m on your side,” evoke feelings of honesty and trust that bring the listener in closely for the rest of the album. It reopens a wound that wasn’t exactly closed, with an approach to revisit feelings that may have been hidden in the dark. Zutrau’s confident vocals highlight this, approaching this distant feeling head-on. 

“Bound” is the only song to have a feature — and a very cohesive one at that — with Blood Orange (Dev Hynes) appearing in complementary background vocals for Zutrau. The track has Hynes’ distinctive R&B tempo and sound that intertwines with Wet’s simplistic rhythm. While the track’s overall aura feels more like a Blood Orange beat, Wet’s inclusion of the record on the album tiptoes around exploring with features and new sounds in the future (which is exciting). It’s rare to find a feature on a Wet album, and “Bound” makes for a perfectly balanced record that is difficult to dislike. 

A good love song is hard to write, especially one that contains the duality of uneasiness in falling for someone alongside feelings of hopefulness and innocence: “Clementine” checks all the boxes. The song is just as sweet to listen to as a clementine is to eat — the track has a pop-y made-for-radio type beat but finds itself centered in Zutrau’s calming cadence. Zutrau transports the listener back into moments of falling in love, unpeeling layers of a diary filled with love letters that were once stored away. Lyrics such as, “After a while, I still think you’re the best,” and “Do you love me like you love Clementine?” feel teenage in the best possible way.

What Letter Blue does differently than previous records is demand the spotlight. Zutrau’s vocals are quieter, yet on the album, its nostalgic sound combined with soft vocals sound like a vivid memory. “Larabar” opens with a stunning piano intro where Zutrau’s voice is cut with autotune and static. Listeners almost tune in closer to decipher Zutrau amongst everything else going on in the background. “Far Cry” has a similar piano sound where Zutrau’s confidence builds up as the track goes on. Each track has its own personality and a little weirdness, demanding simple yet thorough listening.

The aura of Letter Blue and all it encompasses is what fans of Wet have been waiting three years for. It avoids going above and beyond what the trio is capable of and instead refines its distinctive hallucinatory sound while reopening past relationship wounds. It’s charming, sincere, and perfectly balances the thin line of teenage brooding and introspective care. 

Contact Kaitlin Clapinski at [email protected].