On Wet Leg’s mellow debut, it’s rough being 28

Photo of Wet Leg album cover.
Domino Recording Co Ltd/Courtesy

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It’s a bit funny that all of a sudden, Wet Leg swept out of nowhere on a rocket to success and acclaim. The group’s songs are all about getting nowhere — boring parties, stalled relationships and laying, as their listeners well know, on a chaise longue all day long. The members are indie rockers grieving their twenties, ready to escape the Isle of Wight. (This is where the band’s leads, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, met at college.) But it doesn’t quite seem that, with Wet Leg, the band’s self-titled debut, Wet Leg is quite ready to lean up; rather, the band is perfectly ready to tell us what’s got it in a slump.

It was not long ago that Wet Leg, blessed by the vicissitudes of the internet, found a viral hit on its hands (in its debut single “Chaise Longue”), the band’s boredom transformed into stardom. Perhaps stardom is a bit strong, but Wet Leg is a particular sort of star: There are few groups — or people working in any field, for that matter — who can so easily turn the banalities of a life fluttering between “arty” parties and nights of “Buffalo ‘66 on DVD” into straightforward lamentations. In spirit, Wet Leg finds itself in the company of Björk’s “There’s More to Life Than This.”

As rockers, the band has a different temperament in its sound, something without Björk’s ferocity, something closer to The Strokes’s mewling. There’s a pervasive sense of disinterest of, if anything, being bored of the world around them. The group used to think, as Teasdale has explained, they worked a “sh—y waitressing job” to make music work; in actuality, “you’re trying to distract yourself from not achieving the things that you want to achieve in life by going to these parties.” It’s on that note that, on “I Don’t Wanna Go Out,” Wet Leg sings about how “it used to be so fun/ now everything just feels dumb.”

That’s a particularly somber lyric off Wet Leg, and it would be unfair to call it another band of indie rockers with an ever-present bass line and a “fresh” use of a guitar. Though both of those may well stand, they are very much exemplary of how Wet Leg slides into a staid sensibility. But the group is poignantly aware of how easily its lyrics can become droll, taciturn; the band’s pointedly cheeky “Chaise Longue” turns innuendo — “I went to school and I got the big D” — into a witheringly straightforward suggestion of how quickly life at college can shift into a prison of parties, distractions, emptiness.

On Wet Leg, the listener finds themself navigating narrators who always seem to be a bit over it — good or bad — in everything from sex (“Wet Dream”) to getting lost in their phone (“Oh No”). Consider the band reformed, warding off hollow temptations and chasing what they want to achieve in earnest. Yet, they can’t help but grasp at a stage of their life they’ve already outgrown: “Good times, all the time,” they sing on “Angelica,” lacquered with so much repetition of the line it becomes not farce, but a plea to let the good times roll, just one more time while they wait to stumble into their future. “And then it all comes to an end,” they say, “We all go again, go again.” They teeter on the edge, so nearly swayed into falling back into the swing of things. 

There is a given, across Wet Leg, that the narrator knows the good times cannot be allowed to roll. She clues us in from verse one on “Being in Love,” with “I feel so uninspired/ I feel like giving up” straight down to closer “Too Late Now” and the underwater strums that back “But now that we have all grown up/ Well, all my friends have given up.” They may be tired of watching their youth slip by, but at least they’re not headed the wrong way.

Contact Dominic Marziali at [email protected].