The 50 best albums of 2022: No 8 – Wet Leg: Wet Leg
The year’s buzziest duo picked apart millennial malaise – and the desire to delay adulthood – with smart gags and catchy choruses on the year’s breakout guitar album
Wet Leg seemed to come out of nowhere. Silly name. Lyrical double (and single) entendres. A Domino record deal off the back of a couple of tracks on SoundCloud. Within weeks, their June 2021 debut single Chaise Longue had flung the Isle of Wight duo from unknowns into the buzziest band around on just the basis of a few minutes of stupidly catchy guitar-pop.
That song hinted at how Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers could shove new wave, post-punk and incessant hooks into a raucous embrace. And yes, Chaise Longue set a high bar, with its Mean Girls reference and a bucolic music video (now watched more than 8.5m times). It was widely rated as one of the best songs of 2021. Could their first record make good on its promise? In April, their self-titled debut answered, conclusively, yes.
On one level, the album is an autopsy of a past relationship conducted with goofiness, with Teasdale often sounding openly disgusted by men before spraying a squirty-cream smiley face over that judgment. She doles out a savage assessment of an ex on Ur Mum – “When I think about what you’ve become / I feel sorry for your mum” – but tempers it by singing in the higher end of her register. If you’re not listening closely, it’s just a sunny, faintly psychedelic earworm. But as with single Wet Dream, the duo pair sweet with sour to disarm, then they pull you in close and whisper the real story in your ear. In Wet Dream, that’s one about an ex who, post-breakup, would tell Teasdale when she appeared in his dreams. Her response? “What makes you think you’re good enough to think about me / When you’re touching yourself?”
Wet Leg (the album) also deals in a sort of middle-class millennial malaise. Teasdale and Chambers pick at the scabs of being promised a great life then finding it wanting. Both Angelica and I Don’t Wanna Go Out seem exhausted by the pressure to enjoy yourself at parties. Oh No turns doomscrolling at 3am into something close to a jaunty, scuzzy nursery rhyme: “I went home, all alone / I checked my phone and now I’m inside it.”