I generally feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the comings and goings and new releases of music, especially when it comes to the alternative and indie realm, but I’m obvious not omniscient. Every once in a while, something slips through on first pass and “Wet Leg” is a perfect example of one of those parties to which I arrived unfashionably late. Indeed, I hadn’t heard of them at all until the week of their self-titled debut’s release and I started seeing tons of hype all over the music sites and pictures of the album’s cover and vinyl pressing on the various vinyl-loving pages I follow on Instagram.
Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers are long-time friends who decided to form as a duo in 2019 after years of miring in relative solo musician obscurity on the Isle of Wight. They’ve given a handful of differing reasons as to why they settled on Wet Leg as a moniker but the version I believe or want to believe the most was as a constant reminder to not take themselves too seriously. They signed with Domino Records in late 2020 and recorded the aforementioned debut in the spring of 2021.
A couple of months after the album was finished, Wet Leg released the first advance single and really, their first ever single. And yeah, it went viral, racking up millions of streams in its first year. With the second single almost as successful, it was unsurprising that the music machine started to take notice. “Wet Leg” was finally released a year after it was recorded and was preceded by five singles in total. It debuted at #1 on the UK and Australian record charts and performed well in pretty much every major market. It was nominated for the UK’s Mercury Prize and for a handful of Grammys in the US.
The first time I streamed it, I did so with a dubious ear, but one that quickly melted to the glee that many other music fans have obviously experienced. There’s something universal in their sound, which is probably why I’ve seen them classified as everything from punk to post-punk, from garage rock to britpop, and from new wave to slacker rock. The duo is original and exciting, but given their quick ascent in popularity, they are already treading the fine line of darling and derision. All eyes and ears will be on whether they can properly follow this up but for now, we can appreciate the debut as pure fun and folly.
Indeed, there’s plenty to like here but there’s no arguing with the three singles I’ve picked for you to peruse, just in case you (as I almost did) have missed out on Wet Leg thus far.
“Too late now“: The third single and last track on the album has a rumbling bass line and chiming guitars that keep time with Teasdale’s shifty vocals. It feels at first like it’s got it all together, albeit insular and atmospheric, but little by little, its insecurity shows and by the end it’s a shambolic mess. “Down we go while holding hands. If I fuck this up, I’m taking you down with me.” It’s feedback and hammering drums and chaos and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Wet dream”: Working backward through their singles, track five reminds me a bit of Goat Girl, who were a surprise entry on my end of the year list last year. It’s a bass groove that flirts with Blondie and The Go-Go’s but is perhaps more overt in its sexuality and its refusal to play and accept its role. “What makes you think you’re good enough to think about me when you’re touching yourself?” But in spite of its knowing side glances and sly winks, it is at its heart, a great pop song and has the potential to fill dance floors everywhere.
“Chaise longue”: Here’s the big one. The ear worm. The song you want to hate but can’t help but love. You listen to it over and over and find yourself singing along to that damned repetitive chorus. “On the chaise longue, on the chaise longue, on the chaise longue. All day long, on the chaise longue.” Fast and frenetic and hyperventilating. One could almost imagine Justine Frischmann singing it with her band Elastica back in the mid 90s. It’s no wonder it’s gotten so much play.
We’ll be back after the holiday with album #3. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:
10. Blushing “Possessions”
9. Just Mustard “Heart under”
8. Jeanines “Don’t wait for a sign”
7. The Reds, Pinks and Purples “Summer at land’s end”
6. Tallies “Patina”
5. Suede “Autofiction”
You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.
And finally, for those who celebrate, best wishes to you, your friends, and your families for a very merry Christmas.