Music Reviews
Wet Leg

Wet Leg Wet Leg

(Domino) Rating - 8/10

What is it about the It Girl that makes her so untouchably cool? Above all else, it’s just how easy it all is for her. Trying isn’t sexy (in the immortal words of 30 Rock, “Wanting to be book is not book!”). While the rest of us scrub our faces, change our hairstyles, and wipe our sweaty palms on the seats of our pants, she steals the show in nothing more than last night’s dress and a smile.


So it is for Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, the effortlessly effervescent duo behind Wet Leg. You’ve already heard of them; they were a TikTok viral sensation months before the record release. So viral, in fact, that it started rumors that they were an industry plant. With their wry charm and colorful style, it’s easy to think that they were cooked up in a lab for better photo ops than sound bytes. Even their origin story seems plucked from the Manic Pixie Dream Girl playbook: two college dropouts drunkenly sling guitars on a lark just to get free festival entry, then decide while sitting atop a Ferris wheel to form a band that could be written out in emojis. After a few months of writing songs and indulging in some whimsical hobbies, they book a few gigs, and voila—sudden fame. It’s no surprise that some are calling foul.


But Wet Leg’s hotly anticipated self-titled debut is no slapped-together producer’s vision of what the kids should like. Its authenticity is what makes it so addictive, so accessible. True, there’s nothing particularly musically impressive about Wet Leg. By their own admission, the band aren’t “virtuoso guitarists or anything, but making music isn’t about that for us. It’s just: ‘Does it sound good?’”—and that it most certainly does. Taking their cues as much from punk as from French new wave, Teasdale and Chambers hop from one candy-coated track to the next, lacing together buzzing guitars and head-nodding lyrical callbacks. They breathe energy into everything they touch; it’s plain to hear how much fun they’re having.


This is a record for road trips, make out sessions, and dance parties. But it’s a little hard to pin down what sets it apart from other recent pulpy, female-fronted indie pop acts with a nineties vibe. Pom Poko has a similarly saccharine sound and casually confrontational lyrics, but they're practically obscure in comparison. And though a group like Dry Cleaning, arguably as alluringly insouciant, rocketed to the top of many "Best Of" lists last year, their star never shone so brightly as Wet Leg's. What is it about the It Girl?


Where Dry Cleaning’s brand of dadaism and indifference is perhaps more cerebral, Wet Leg’s is less realized, a bit less mature. Their cleverness verges at times on self-parody with songs like Oh No, essentially a hangover set to music ("Oh my god/life is hard/credit card/oh no/You’re so woke/Diet Coke/I feel gross/Oh no"). “We're not going to be like other bands, we're not indulging that 'struggling artist' thing,” Teasdale has said. Their fame caught them off guard; they were just enjoying themselves, here for the ride. Everyone else just tries too hard. Luckily, for Wet Leg, rushing through it doesn’t mean unfinished or lazy; it means gut feeling and pure dopamine.


Enough has already been said about the ubiquitous Chaise Longue, so let’s redirect our attention to another stand-out as a perfect example: the newest single and surprisingly delightful breakup bop Ur Mum, which Teasdale wrote in just one night on a break from work. To this American, the title reads like a posh ‘Your Mom’ diss track; in reality, there’s just not enough love lost for cutting insults. In her most childlike voice, the worst Teasdale can do is: “You’re always so full of shit/why don’t you just suck my dick?” As the fuzzy guitars and infectious beat subside on this bit of surf rock inspired whimsy, we’re treated to the most darling slice of self-awareness: “Okay, I’ve been practicing my longest and loudest scream. Okay, here we go…” God, it’s as cute as it is infuriating, isn’t it?


If Wet Leg must be the embodiment of a real life Manic Pixie Dream Girl, then they're debunking the myth of her (non)existence. She's not some unattainable ideal; she’s just a girl, “almost 28, still getting off [her] stupid face,” high at the supermarket, doomscrolling, self-medicating, and feeling awkward at parties… and definitely not written by some lonely screenwriter to satisfy his fantasies (“Cos you can never tell what it is I am thinking/You say that I’m mysterious cos I won’t let you get it in”). They don't have to be written in the third person to see this kind of success; they earned it themselves. We're just stunned how easy they make it seem.