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Wet Leg, in troubled waters – Liberation

Spotted just a year ago with the brilliant song “Chaise longue”, the British duo released a cheerful and clever debut album in the form of a generational punk cry.

The first time we took their lounge chair in the gums, one would have sworn that they were American, cut in leather and as if emerging on the burning asphalt of the Runaways, Bikini Kill or Breeders, lascivious-aggressive ancestors manipulating the bass like a rocket launcher and the punk idiom -pop like Tarantine-esque pack leaders. Missed: the pair of Wet Leg are English, residents of the bucolic Isle of Wight whose electric memories of the Doors, Who or Hendrix are now fossilized in a memory that is not theirs. Less than a year after their (brilliant) warning shot that set streaming platforms ablaze last summer, followed by a flurry of sharp-caliber singles, the expansive brunette Rhian Teasdale and the fearful blonde Hester Chambers are unleashing a whole similarly explosive album, riddled with twisting hits and yet paralyzed by the ambient desolation. On the cover, they hug each other, with their backs to the lens, like little girls who have committed the irreparable – texts that their parents will have a hard time accepting from the neighbors – or a good joke that has passed them by. “We started this group for fun, confirms Rhian, but what happened got so, um, wild that sometimes we just burst into tears when we walked off stage. This image represents well the state of mind in which all this took place. For ages, in fact, such a telluric buzz had not accompanied the firing of a group from the indie rock sphere, inspired by the caciques of the genre (Nirvana, Pixies, Pavement…) most of whom radiated when the two girls were still playing with dolls.

Spontaneous combustion

Their meeting in high school is first of all an exchange of good manners, when one and her folk guitar (Hester) asks the other and her piano (Rhian) to accompany her, then when the roles are reversed when the second brings texts that deserve better than to end up in CocoRosie-style babacooleries. A rage of GarageBand and the collusion of their songs thus revamped with a producer in overdrive (Dan Carey, fifty-year-old guru behind Fontaines DC, Goat Girl or Squid) transform the two folkesses into troublemakers punks not prepared for the role: “We liked this scene which revolved around Dan’s label, Speedy Wunderground, Hester points out. He was the one who channeled our ideas, who pushed us out of our shell and who found the sound we dreamed of. When lounge chair came out and everything got carried away, fortunately the album was already recorded, otherwise we would have been scared.

Observing them exchanging embarrassed glances, or giggling in embarrassment when certain slightly salty texts are mentioned (stories about ass, breaking bans, bubble baths and drinking binges), we guess that they must have go beyond their fierce natures to deliver these twelve songs which do not tremble, play the register of ungrateful post-teen indocility but have an unstoppably seductive stature, capable of leading them far from the tepid little rooms which serve as their decor. The cascading choirs that double the guitars of Being in Movethe tangy candor ofAngelica crashing into a devilish wall of sound, a Bowie riff (The Man Who Sold the Worldrevamped by Nirvana) which streaks the melody ofI Don’t Wanna Go Out, the post-punk saturations ofoh no and folk shreds revived by 90′s hormones on Piece of Shiteverything here is outrageously catchy, clever, almost too perfect for a first record. Wet Leg comes out thirty years exactly after the Dry by PJ Harvey (which they cite as a model), and apart from the scoundrel humidity level which separates them, we are undoubtedly dealing with the same kind of spontaneous combustion, resulting from a similar masterful equation between life in a lost hole and the exciting and anxiety-inducing turbulence of the outside world.

Generational echo

Wet Leg’s songs speak of emancipation and renunciation, of illusions and disillusions in the same spirit of challenge to the present (social networks that damage, shared accommodation that protects, the family that understands nothing in the middle) and in In this sense they are opposed to those of Miss Harvey, who scratched only solitary wounds. Here the echo is generational, even if the music seems to date from another era, like a ghost resurrected from the university parties in Portland or Seattle at the time when the guitar was cool and rock still vibrated under the skin. . Weathered old veterans like Iggy Pop or Dave Grohl have not failed to salute the freshness of the duo, which terrifies them when we talk about it, as if this too brutal crossing of the mirror (even before the release of the album they were already catapulted to the United States for a tour) corresponded to a leap into the void. “Fortunately, tempers Rhian, we keep our feet on the ground. When I come back to my roommate and find pictures of me on the fridge, or a magazine with Wet Leg on the cover on the coffee table, I know it’s a way of telling myself that everything is going to be okay, that ‘they are proud of me and that I can always find refuge with them.’ Daydream on a lounge chair “all day long” is yet another – postponed – program that seems to fulfill their overexposed youth.

Wet Leg, Wet Leg (Domino)



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