Wet Leg seemingly appeared out of nowhere last year, signing to big label Domino in June 2021. When the duo—lead singer and guitarist Rhian Teasdale and lead guitarist and backing vocalist Hester Chambers (accompanied by Henry Holmes on drums, Ellis Durand on bass, and Joshua Omead Mobarak on guitar and synths)—released its first single, “Chaise Longue,” the song became a viral sensation.
Despite swirling rumors, Wet Leg is no industry plant. Teasdale and Chambers don’t have famous parents, either; the duo got attention this fast mostly through word of mouth (being signed to Domino surely helped, too). The band released six singles ahead of the album’s arrival: “Chaise Longue,” “Angelica,” “Wet Dream,” “Too Late Now,” “Oh No,” and “Ur Mum.” All have been fantastic in their own way, but the songs that were kept for the record feature some of Wet Leg’s best work yet. This is the rare long-awaited debut album that lives up to the hype.
The album begins with “Being In Love,” a thumping track with honeyed vocals, where Teasdale likens her all-consuming anxiety to the sensation of falling for someone: “I lost my appetite /I cannot sleep at night /I cannot concentrate /I do not feel too great /The world is caving in /And I’m kinda struggling /But I kinda like it ’cause it feels like being in love.”
Teasdale is a gifted songwriter, one who can seamlessly capture emotions difficult to put into words. There’s “I Don’t Wanna Go Out,” that perfectly articulates that point in your late twenties where you’re too young to give up on your aspirations, but still feel jaded and discouraged. “It used to be so fun, now everything just feels so dumb / I wish I could care / And now I’m almost 28 / Still getting off my stupid face /A fucking nightmare / I know I should care / Right now I don’t care,” Teasdale sings. While the song’s lyrics are dejected, the music is a stunningly lovely contrast, with synths and backing vocals giving the track an ethereal touch; it sounds like angels welcoming you into the pearly gates of heaven.
“Loving You” is another Teasdale-penned track—a solemn, synth-and-guitar-driven number about the disappointment in the fallout with someone who plays with her emotions—despite them having a new partner. Teasdale’s vocals remain sweet as she lays it all bluntly: “I don’t want to have to stay friends / I don’t want to have to pretend / I don’t wanna meet your girlfriend / Hope you’re choking on your girlfriend / When she calls 999 / They cut the line on you.”
The theme continues on the aptly titled “Piece Of Shit,” a song that’s also pared down compared to the effervescent singles, with Teasdale choosing to be the bigger person and not have to deal with someone who mistreats her: “Want me to cry? Alright. Like I might die? Alright. You’re a good guy. Alright. Alright, whatever helps you sleep at night,” she sings. Wet Leg’s most biting lyrics come in the gentlest songs; it’s a stark contrast that makes them even more attention-grabbing.
But even when Teasdale lays out her emotions, she doesn’t sap the lyrics of the band’s sense of humor. “Ur Mom,” a bouncy pop song, has her calling out a former lover, asking them to forget her. There’s no need to be eloquent about it: “Yeah, why don’t you suck my dick,” she retaliates, while pointing out why she can no longer stay in the dynamic. And that humorous frustration reaches a breaking point, with Teasdale announcing that she’s been practicing her “loudest scream,” counting to three before letting out a screech.
There’s a big difference between the way Teasdale and Chambers approach songwriting. While Teasdale seems to enjoy taking a more literal method, writing emotionally charged lyrics that feel like eavesdropping on an intimate conversation with a friend—or, in some cases, the kinds of risky texts that make you want to chuck your phone across the room right after sending—Chambers keeps her songwriting more abstract and absurdist.
The sole song written by Chambers for this album without Teasdale’s co-credit is “Convincing” (“It’s Not Fun” was also written by Chambers alone, but only appears on the deluxe edition). On that track, Chambers’ voice takes on a sultry coo that’s reminiscent of Lana Del Rey. “Do you think the other girls would mind if I took a swim too in the night time / On the beach / Wet feet / Bioluminescent plankton shit,” she muses. Chambers’ voice is just as beautiful as Teasdale’s, and leaves you wanting to hear more.
The true magic of the record comes in the moments where Chambers and Teasdale share songwriting duties, as they both have a dirty, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Take lead single “Chaise Longue”: The Mean Girls reference works in no small part thanks to Teasdale’s droll delivery. With a monotone that could rival Margot Tenenbaum, Teasdale sounds cool as she sings some of the silliest lyrics imaginable, including opening lines “Mommy, daddy, look at me / I went to school and I got a degree / All my friends call it ‘the big D’ / I went to school and I got the big D.”
One of the biggest standouts is the amusingly perverse “Wet Dream.” It’s clear that Wet Leg enjoys not taking itself seriously, and on this ridiculously catchy tune, Teasdale and Chambers get creative with their dirty imagery: “You climb onto the bonnet and you’re licking the windscreen / I’ve never seen anything so obscene.” Wet Leg plays a lot with injecting different genres into its guitar-based music, and in the case of “Wet Dream,” the band crafts a disco-tinged song. The rhythm guitar shines best when paired with percussion, as Teasdale repeats the evocative line “It’s enough, it’s enough, it’s enough, it’s enough (to make a girl blush)”; it’s infectious and lively.
Then there’s “Angelica,” an all-too-relatable song with shimmery guitar riffs about the awkwardness of attending parties while having social anxiety. The lyrics “I don’t know what I’m even doing here / I was told that there would be free beer / I don’t wanna follow you on the ’gram / I don’t want to listen to your band” nails what it’s like to have to socialize with people with whom you don’t relate; what looks glamorous from afar often feels uncomfortable from the inside.
Even when it comes to the tracks that are markedly subdued in comparison to the others, there are no dull moments on Wet Leg. With the winning pairing of two incredible guitarists and excellent songwriting, this is a near-flawless introduction. The record holds such a compelling collection of songs, it’s already exciting to await what Wet Leg will come up with next.