'Wet Leg' hooks you with their prickly, raunchy way of looking at the world
TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. Over the summer, you may have heard a catchy little song called "Chaise Longue." It's been streamed more than 5 million times on Spotify. It was the debut release from Wet Leg, two women in their mid-20s from the Isle of Wight who've come out of nowhere to become indie rock's newest obsession. The band has just released its debut album, also called "Wet Leg," and rock critic Ken Tucker says it's full of clever entertainment.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEING IN LOVE")
WET LEG: (Singing) I need a lie down, only just got up. I feel so uninspired. I feel like giving up. I feel like someone has punched me in the gut. I kind of like it 'cause it feels like being in love, being in love, being in love.
KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: In the song that opens their debut album, the duo called Wet Leg describes being in love as like taking a punch in the gut. And these two young women spend the next 11 songs proving they really take romance hard, but not always seriously. The outstanding example of this is their breakout hit "Chaise Longue," an instantly catchy song that's either a sustained bit of risque double-entendre or a sweet feat of silly stream of consciousness.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHAISE LONGUE")
WET LEG: (Singing) Mummy, 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. I got the big D. I got the big D. I got the big D. I went to school, and I got the big D. Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin? Excuse me. Excuse me. What? Hey, you, over there on the chaise longue in your underwear. What are you doing sitting down? You should be horizontal now.
TUCKER: Wet Leg hails from the Isle of Wight. Rhian Teasdale sings lead and plays rhythm guitar. Hester Chambers plays lead guitar and supplies harmony backup vocals. A couple of years ago, they decided to take their friendship to a professional level via songs with a post-punk drive. Indeed, the songs are driven less by the couple of chords per song Chambers plays on the guitar than by Teasdale's vocals. Those are notably expressive, given the fact that she also does her best to convey a certain poker-faced blankness.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH NO")
WET LEG: (Singing) I went home all alone. Checked my phone - oh, no. Oh, my God, life is hard. Credit card - oh, no. You're so woke. Diet Coke. I feel gross. Oh, no. I went home all alone. I checked my phone, and now I'm inside it.
TUCKER: Wet Leg writes casually but explicitly about sex, which is important to them even if the guys are frequently annoying or worse. In the song "Loving You," Teasdale makes it clear that post-breakup, she doesn't want to be friends. And she doesn't want to be mature about it. She really just wants him to get lost.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVING YOU")
WET LEG: (Singing) We had it all. We had it all. We had it all planned out. You said that I was everything you ever wanted, there's no doubt. I used to want to love you like you wanted me to. Now I want to hate you like I tell you I do. Sorry if I seem a little bit upset when you say she looks a little bit like me when we first met.
TUCKER: At their best, Teasdale's soaring soprano floats above Chambers' rumbling guitar riffs to achieve a pleasing tension, whimsy that barely disguises underlying anger or frustration. I like the leap of thought it took these women to express how terribly mediocre a boyfriend has turned out by musing that this fellow must be a grave disappointment to his mother.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UR MUM")
WET LEG: (Singing) When I think about what you've become, I feel sorry for your mum. You say we're all having fun. Do you know you're the only one? When the lights go down on another town, I know it's time to go. And when the radio plays and the static stays, yeah, I know it's time to go. I get up to go now. I give up - up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up - on you now. I don't want you to want me. I need you to forget me. Yeah, I loved you. That was crazy 'cause you just don't motivate me.
TUCKER: At this point in their career, we don't know whether Wet Leg is a band with staying power or a very good feminist novelty act. But this debut does prove that Teasdale and Chambers possess the instincts of canny entertainers, ones who already know how to hook you into their prickly, raunchy, witty way of looking at the world.
GROSS: Ken Tucker reviewed the new album "Wet Leg" by the duo Wet Leg. Tomorrow on FRESH AIR, our guest will be actor Adam Scott. He's appeared in the TV series "Parks And Recreation," "Big Little Lies," "Party Down" and the film "Step Brothers." He now stars in the critically acclaimed Apple TV+ series "Severance," about a man who gets a chip inserted in his brain designed to separate his work life from his home life. The series finale drops this week. I hope you'll join us.
FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Therese Madden, Ann Marie Baldonado, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley and Joel Wolfram. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Roberta Shorrock directs the show. I'm Terry Gross.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGELICA")
WET LEG: (Singing) Angelica was on her way to the party. She doesn't need to wait for anybody, knows exactly what's she's doing. I know what I'm doing. I watch as she commands the room. The ambience was overrated at the party. I want to run away before it's even started. I look at my feet, then I look for the door, the door. Can't find my friends, so I just take a bit more - a bit more, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more. And then...
(SOUNDBITE OF WES MONTGOMERY'S "4 ON 6") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.