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Wet Leg - Wet Leg Music Album Reviews

Wet Leg - Wet Leg Music Album Reviews
The British indie rock duo have hooks stuffed with bait and a keen eye for assessing self-delusion. Their debut is the sound of two women stoking mutiny from a slow descent into madness.

If you don’t already love Wet Leg, chances are their swift rise and self-deprecation induce a particular kind of cynicism. Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers arrived fully formed with the kind of infernally catchy indie rock hit not heard since the days of Franz Ferdinand and were instantly everywhere: played to death on British alternative radio; on Jools Holland and late-night U.S. talk shows; the subject of approving texts from your dad. They repel seriousness, claiming they only started the band for fun—on top of a Ferris wheel at a music festival, no less—and their songs mean next to nothing. Apparently they barely had time to meet their future label, Domino, because they were too busy “rolling around in the grass doing teddy bear rolls with the guitars.” Their lyrics cringe with embarrassment on behalf of anyone deluded enough to be in a band, with their warm beer and crap patter and arty parties. (It’s often said that their home of the Isle of Wight lags 20 years behind the rest of the UK, and Wet Leg’s suffocating social circle sounds straight out of 2005: the Cribs’ “Hey Scenesters!,” Art Brut’s “Formed a Band” and Arctic Monkeys’ “Fake Tales of San Francisco” writ large.) You might wonder whether Wet Leg embraced indie rock as part of their larky shtick—what could be more ironic than messing around with a destitute genre?—if they weren’t such a good study.

Teasdale and Chambers are carpetbaggers in the ultimate carpetbagging genre: You can play Magic Eye with their speed-addled guitars, tilting the music this way and that to spot flagrant trace notes of the Breeders, Parquet Courts, Wire, Pulp, Pavement, MGMT, the Strokes, Courtney Barnett, Blur, Elastica and a billion more bands besides. (On “Convincing,” the album’s biggest tonal outlier, Chambers sings wryly devastated Angel Olsen cosplay.) But it’s a sound that endures endless retreads as long as the hooks are good. For years, that bubblegum melodic facility seemed to have deserted bands of this ilk. The 2004 British wave stopped wanting to make “music for girls to dance to” and got sophisticated (read: boring), and the space they left was quickly filled by lumpen “whoa-oh-oh” football terrace chanters. Wet Leg have hooks stuffed with bait—and beyond convincingly consolidating past eras of guitar pop, they ply an idiosyncratic line in wild-eyed choruses that unspool in run-on bursts of mania, building to terminal velocity, tripping on internal rhymes, and dragging you down with them.

Exhibit one: that hit. “You could ask 100 people to sing it and it wouldn’t sound the same,” Iggy Pop said approvingly of “Chaise Longue.” The way Teasdale sings it is one of the defining qualities of Wet Leg’s self-titled debut. As she chants about being trapped in bad scene after bad scene, her vocals lurch and spiral, sidling away from the unrelenting rhythm section and canine guitars like a child going floppy to escape her parent’s arms. Her seditious tenor moves songs with slightly pathetic subject matter—wanting to leave a party, getting sucked into your phone—beyond the tediously hymned woes of messy white twentysomethings to lead the charge against succumbing to existential hell. It’s the sound of two women stoking mutiny from a slow descent into madness, scratching at the yellow wallpaper. “It all used to be fun/Now you’re swinging a gun round your head/Seeing red/Can you please repeat what you just said? Or leave a message at the beep,” Teasdale sings on “I Don’t Wanna Go Out” in a tone that suggests a weary smile held up by fish hooks. The riff nods knowingly to Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” a song he said he wrote about “how you feel when you’re young, when you know there’s a piece of yourself that you haven’t really put together yet.”

“Chaise Longue” may have “no deeper meaning,” according to Teasdale, yet it turns out to presage a pointed interrogation of passivity (and with it, expectations of femininity) across Wet Leg. You can hear their recumbent anthem as a jab against the idea that music, especially music made by women, should be introspective and tortured to be taken seriously; or against the type of indie sleaze who wants women supine and supplicating, ideally on his backstage fainting couch. There are plenty of the latter type across the album, expecting adulation for starting a band, as if it’s something that anyone couldn’t do on a whim at the top of a fairground ride; or banking on a quick and convenient transition from exes to friends; or romanticizing denied consent as a sign of mysteriousness. The worst offender is the subject of would-be indie disco staple “Wet Dream,” a well-observed perv who tries to entice a girl home to watch Vincent Gallo films and has a sub-dom fantasy of her in the driving seat—though naturally, she’s only in control in his dreams. “You climb onto the bonnet and you’re licking the windscreen/I’ve never seen anything so obscene/It’s enough to make a girl blush/It’s enough it’s enough it’s enough…” Teasdale sings, repeating the last line as if trying to scrape something foul off her tongue. She dials up the absurdity until the words transform from coquettish brush-off to disgusted protest, pinpointing the feverish moment when polite tolerance snaps.

Wet Leg jab with humor to disrupt these expectations. The glee that greeted the Mean Girls references and basic innuendo in “Chaise Longue” seemed a bit overdone—proof of a listenership desperate for levity (and presumably having overlooked the absurdism in Dry Cleaning’s debut)—but there are genuinely funny moments elsewhere on the album. It works best to amplify the various states of existential horror they find themselves in, though they occasionally land a devastating insult. The moody surf of “Piece of Shit” fields a call from a raging ex, and at first Teasdale stonewalls their accusations, using passivity to rile them even further: “I’m such a slut?/Alright/Whatever helps you sleep at night.” Then she turns on them, joined by Chambers in a strange, mousy little harmony that adds insult to injury: “Yeah, like a piece of shit you either sink or float/So you take her for a ride on your daddy’s boat.”

Otherwise, there’s lots of suck-my-dick, pubes, and wanking, and mocking references to mummy and daddy that can wear thin as Wet Leg lean on the banality of outrageousness. Sometimes when they take the low road, it’s just the low road: “You’re so woke/Diet Coke,” they taunt on “Oh No,” a lyrical nadir that deepens as they consider excessive phone use, a topic nobody needs to write about ever again. (At least they offset it with some thrillingly purgative chaos.) And the last song, “Too Late Now,” is a doubtless surely felt panic attack about the point of it all that concludes: “I just need a bubble bath to set me on a higher path,” a skewering of self-care that already feels passé.

More acute is their keen eye for assessing self-delusion: how what used to feel fun curdles by one’s mid-20s and thrill-seeking simply blunts the lows. While none of these are new observations (they’re the bedrock of the emotional indie-rock that followed the old party-starting kind) Wet Leg approach them with sly nuance. “Being in Love” suggests a permeable barrier between the feelings of total depression and infatuation, a risky romanticization that they sell on the strength of a big, dumb, knees-first mudslide of a chorus. When a squall of noise boils over at the end of “Angelica,” a song about a shit party, Teasdale sings blithely about “Good times/All the time”—it’s “We Can’t Stop” with Red Stripe and wallflowers.

Some dork at another shit party on “I Don’t Want to Go Out” is moving to L.A. with his band. “Are you gonna stay young forever?” Teasdale asks in a daze, before delivering a spot-on Jarvis impersonation: “You said yeah—and I just walk away.” Much as Teasdale and Chambers sometimes delight in childish oblivion (the shambling “Supermarket” revels in the whoops-a-daisy chaos of stoned grocery shopping) you get the sense they can’t imagine anything worse than being condemned to eternal youth. Their debut doesn’t skimp on outlining the horrors of being a youngish woman—but its giddy, wild-eyed pleasures are also a testament to creating your own reality to survive.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Wet Leg - Wet Leg Music Album Reviews Wet Leg - Wet Leg Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, April 15, 2022 Rating: 5

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