From Olivia O’Brien’s “Sad Songs in the Summer” to Lana Del Rey’s iconic “Summertime Sadness,” there seems to be something more to a melancholic summer. Maybe it’s the longer days and warmer weather that stir up emotions from the past and disjointed feelings about the present. On her newest record Pink Room, released July 8, Wet’s lead vocalist Kelly Zutrau signals that sad girl summer is officially in session.
From their first studio album in 2016, Don’t You, to this year’s earlier release, Letter Blue, Wet and Zutrau have proven their ability to withstand trendy indie feats and produce long-lasting records.
Written and recorded by Zutrau and produced with the help of Reed Black in 2020, Pink Room resurfaces pandemic feelings that have more or less been stuffed away. Through predominant acoustics and stripped-down vocals, Zutrau sounds the way fans know her to be: soft-spoken as she sings about heartbreak and coming of age. Though Pink Room differs sonically from previous Wet releases, it doesn’t stray too far from the band’s usual work.
Without features, heavily produced background instrumentals or any sort of vocal enhancement, the listener is guided only by Zutrau’s talent as a songwriter and vocalist. Older tracks such as “Old Bone” and “Out of Tune” carry similar energy to the newer tracks. They may be slower and lack the production quality of a traditional studio album, but they prove to be just as sincere and tear-jerking.
In every album, including Pink Room, Zutrau gives a part of herself to each track. If songwriters are storytellers, Zutrau is a great one; she always includes vivid details that transport the listener to the scene. For example, “Canyon,” the most stunning song on the record, Zutrau conveys her loneliness in a big world through the imagery of rolling hills, greenery and a vast canyon. Even without conventional production, Zutrau’s background track of oohs and aahs with a simple guitar proves sufficient. It’s a gorgeous track that anyone who has experienced coming-of-age loneliness and existential despair can relate to.
While “Canyon” burns bright, “There’s a Light” comes close behind. The track distantly sounds like a childhood lullaby in the best way. “These things they come and go,” Zutrau sings about feelings for an admirer. Zutrau has always been able to successfully write and sing about the naivete and crushing weight of emotion that comes with being in love. Even with such dramatic themes and feelings, tracks never come across as indulgent or cringey. That’s truly where the success of Wet and Zutrau lies: they hug their audience with emotional records that are audibly enjoyable but still meaningful.
With every good LP, there must be a recklessly sad breakup anthem. On Pink Room, “I’m Not Her” takes the cake. Each track on the album isn’t very long — the longest clocking in at three minutes and 28 seconds — but each packs a powerful punch. Specifically, “I’m Not Her” rattles the cage of anyone experiencing an unrequited breakup in which one party moves on before the other. Comparison is the thief of joy, and Zutrau sums this up quite nicely on the track.
On “Turn the Lights Down Low,” Zutrau sings at a higher octave with the help of an acoustic guitar. It’s difficult to fully tune into Zutrau on the song, but perhaps that’s the point. She sings about not wanting to be alone and simultaneously hiding from the world. The track’s contradictory nature makes for an interesting, more experimental tune.
It’s always difficult when one’s favorite artist releases something different from their usual sound. However, Pink Room sounds less like an experimental project and more like Zutrau finding her tune. The stripped-down vocals and lack of fine-tuned production make for an intimate project that fans of Zutrau and Wet can easily enjoy.