Thank god the album’s name is “Wet Leg.” Picture the same body of work, the same album cover, but with a track name as a title, like “Being in Love,” or “Wet Dream.” Or maybe a lyric that summarizes the album’s shoulder shrugs to the world, like “It used to be so fun” from “I Don’t Wanna Go Out.” Instead, the album is Wet Leg; it’s not self-titled in a self-reverent or mythologizing way like a Beyoncé or, god forbid, The 1975. It’s self-titled to make you say their gloriously ridiculous band name twice: “Wet Leg by Wet Leg.” You can spend hours thinking about what the hell “wet leg” means: is it suggestive? Subversive? And gosh, what a wonderful waste of time that would be. I can only hope they pull a Zeppelin and name the next album Wet Leg II.
The point is—Wet Leg is absurd, funny, and nonchalant—no matter how temping it is to look at this band as a think-piece. Their rapid ascent to the indie rock spotlight was powered by the virality of “Chaise Longue,” which earned co-signs from Dave Grohl, Hayley Williams, and Florence Welch. Just like their band name, you could spend hours trying to decode what that song means: again, is it suggestive? Subversive? But it’s so addictive and memorable because it repeats the words “chaise longue” with the bemusement of someone who just learned how to say “chaise longue” for the first time.
That’s not to say Wet Leg is lazy or careless with their music. Their bluntness on each track is fine-tuned to be the perfect eye-roll, and Rhian Teasdale’s vocal delivery contains the exact amount of sarcasm for the ideal kiss-off. “Ur Mum” opens with the simply savage line, “When I think about what you’ve become/I feel sorry for your mum.” It’s not a nuanced diss, but it doesn’t need to be. It takes a certain kind of maturity to look this detached without being apathetic, to radiate coolness without even trying.
The hook on “Wet Dream” has the saccharine catchiness of Blondie with the vengeance of Courtney Love, ready to be screamed at what I can only imagine will be a sold-out tour. Speaking of screaming, Teasdale absolutely delights in her well-practiced “longest, loudest scream” on “Ur Mum,” a moment that encapsulates Wet Leg’s glee and lack of self-concern. They’re in the corner of the party, laughing at themselves, but they’re having the best time there.
Musically, Wet Leg shares much with the swath of excellent but deeply self-serious post-punk bands coming out of the UK right now (Fontaines DC, Squid, black midi), including their spoken-word style vocals and production with Dan Carey. But Teasdale and Chambers are charming rather than gloomy, and their take on this sound is refreshingly fun. “Oh No” struts, “Too Late Now” casually builds into an anthem, and “Angelica” is one of the most danceable post-punk songs in years. When they paint the paranoia of being too high at the grocery store on “Supermarket,” their tale is a comedy, not a drama.
The casual happenstance of Wet Leg stumbling into the role of Next Big Thing is best summarized by their own lyric: “I don’t know what I’m even doing here/I was told that there would be free beer.” But their popularity is no accident. It’s hard not to feel charmed and disarmed by their lovingly silly approach. It doesn’t matter what “Wet Leg” means, but it sure feels right for them.
Wet Leg’s self-titled debut is out now.
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