Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers each wear a small gold necklace made by Hester: one that says Wet, and one that says Leg. Before last summer, those necklaces would have been cryptic to almost everyone else. However, a lot has changed since then. Wet Leg only released their debut single, Chaise Longue, in June 2021, but its dry wit, Mean Girls nod and thumping indie-disco beat turned it into a runaway hit. They have already performed on Jools Holland and Seth Meyers, supported a slew of great acts from CHVRCHES to Idles, sold out their entire 2022 tour with only two songs out in the world (Wet Dream followed in September, another absolute corker) and now, with new single Too Late Now, an album on the horizon and having been ranked #2 in the BBC Sound of 2022 list, this year looks set to take them even further. Here are the pop stars you've been waiting years to discover.
"It all seems so long ago now," says Rhian, still a little stunned by the rapid pace of it all.” It has only been six months. "There have been so many firsts for us since then," says Hester.
The next first will be their debut album Wet Leg, an instant classic that peels back the layers of the band to reveal the smart, dark heart at the centre of it. There's dancing, guitars, humour, sex, disenchantment, parties, break-ups, a woozy ode to being kicked out of a shop for being ‘totally pickled’ (Supermarket) and a spectacular insult lobbed in the direction of an ex-boyfriend: "When I think about what you've become, I feel sorry for your mum." (Ur Mum).
Wet Leg was mostly recorded in London, in April 2021, meaning they had a finished album before the world had even heard Chaise Longue. "I guess how it happened was unconventional," says Hester. Rhian speculates: "Not many new bands get the opportunity to cocoon themselves in the studio without the noise and opinions of the outside world.” “It felt like a weird social experiment” jokes Hester.
The duo teamed up with Dan Carey (Squid, Fontaines DC) to produce the bulk of it. “It was such a beautiful, homely studio, with no glass separating us. We didn’t have much studio recording experience, but we immediately felt at ease at Dan’s. It just felt right. We made friends with his fluffy white little dog, affectionately named Feta. If we ever got into a rut with anything, we’d just take five and go hang out with Feta - she was a light to us in dark places, when all other lights had gone out.”
They chose from a pool of demos that they made at home on GarageBand, "They were super scrappy,” says Rhian, “but they were good enough to get our ideas across and already they had a sense of identity to them.”
The music isn’t the only window into the world of Wet Leg. The woozy logo and the paintings on each single’s artwork were all designed by Hester herself, and the accompanying videos for Chaise Longue, Wet Dream and Oh No were also directed by the pair. Wet Leg’s identity is ever-evolving but distinct; “Like, surrealist prairie, but with lobster claws. It's very dreamy but maybe a little bit sinister at points,” says Hester.
But for the album cover art, they've kept it simple. "It's a photo of me and Hester, just after we'd come off stage. I've got my arm around her waist, and she's got her arm over my shoulder, and we're ever so slightly hunched over..." says Rhian, before Hester finishes her sentence: "Like we're telling each other a secret… or quietly plotting world domination,” she jokes. The image is a perfect visual representation of their friendship and all things Wet Leg.
Rhian and Hester first met at college on the Isle of Wight, where they both grew up. The pair decided to start Wet Leg after a long hazy summer of rolling around fields and playing festivals with a couple of different bands. They would play their set and then stay for the rest of the weekend to take in as much music as possible before returning to their day jobs. “It was a pretty fun time…I think it really helped inform what kind of music we wanted to make when we eventually started Wet Leg,” concludes Hester.
“Initially, we started the band because we wanted to get free entry into festivals,” adds Rhian. “We wanted to put the summer we’d just had on loop. So I guess we wanted to make music that would fit in that setting, in that headspace, because for the most part, the bands we’d been in before took themselves a bit too seriously, let's say.”
Wet Leg was born. They wrote enough songs for a festival set – Wet Dream, Chaise Longue and Oh No came from that unhurried time – in the hopes that they'd get booked to do a few more festivals.
Hester says they weren't sure what would happen next, whether they'd even carry on. “It’s just a thing, isn’t it? Making grandiose plans to start a band but then just getting too busy with the everyday. We were both working full time jobs so it’s miraculous that we managed to find any time for it really,” she reflects. "But being at a festival and being a bit inebriated helps you come up with your best worst ideas - you get that sense of drunken clarity on things," jokes Rhian. “Yeah, I still have flashbacks of us earnestly declaring to our friends that we were gonna start a band and that the name would be ‘Wet Leg’. The general response being a slightly patronising pat on the back and a ‘Sure you are’”.
Wet Leg, the album, is sad music for party people, and party music for sad people. The main focus was always “good-times-all-the-time” (Angelica) right from the start. Whilst the album is for the most part a representation of that sensibility, a dry and often dark sense of humour ripples through. Whether that's eviscerating a pretentious ex-boyfriend who sends unwanted texts declaring he’s dreamt you were back together and happily married (Wet Dream) or being sucked into the 3am doom scroll on the magnificent glam-stomp Oh No, reminiscent of an 80s sci-fi film, distilled into two minutes and 29 seconds.
I Don't Wanna Go Out reflects on clinging to youth through partying and being in bands, while Too Late Now, which closes out the album, is a three-part epic-in waiting that captures confusion and disillusionment; in a near-spoken-word interlude, Rhian rattles through dating apps, TV and a messy, bleak world, wryly settling on a bubble bath "to set me on a higher path". (She isn't relaxed enough for baths in real life. "I find it quite hard. I've got business to do, I can’t just sit and soak myself into prune-hood.”)
Opener Being In Love sums up that bittersweet give-and-take, starting with a barebones melody before slamming into the chorus. “It is”, says Rhian, “about how being in love is not very conducive to doing much of anything else at all”.
Chaise Longue announced their arrival emphatically, demanding attention like its bratty narrator: "Mummy, daddy, look at me..." "It's just so dumb," says Rhian, embracing the Ramones tradition of proud simplicity. "We wanted to introduce ourselves like, we're not going to be like other bands, we're not indulging that 'struggling artist' thing. We have a sense of humour; start as you mean to go on and that”.
"That's the other thing about our band," says Rhian. "We're not virtuoso guitarists or anything but making music isn’t about that for us. It’s just: ‘Does it sound good?’ Often it's the rough bits, the weird wonky melodies that you hold on to.” “Also, are we having fun?” adds Hester, “Being such close friends, starting this band together was such a refreshing experience compared to other bands we’d been in before. We help each other take risks and do things that scare us.” “Courage is found in unlikely places” Rhian adds.
Angelica is named after Rhian's oldest friend and housemate, and was recorded in Hester's living room, by bandmate Joshua Mobaraki. It's a trippy, synth-kissed journey through parties and regrets. "It's laced with disenchantment," Rhian says. "Even though the chorus is 'good times, all the time'. That's just impossible, isn't it?”
Hester takes the lead vocal on the gorgeous, looping Convincing, "about the indifferent feeling you get when you acknowledge that you’re blue and not ready to do anything about it," she says. “But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow, even darkness must pass” adds Rhian.
Loving You is a heartbroken kiss-off to a clueless ex who 'wants to be friends', while Piece Of Shit is rip-roaring takedown of the very same: "You say you’re a genius, I say you must be joking," sings Rhian.
Ur Mum brings it to a final climax — "When the lights go down on this fucking town, I know it's time to go" a lyric that denotes outgrowing the slow pace of life and small town energy of the Isle of Wight in which Rhian lets out her “longest and loudest scream." Rhian wrote it one evening on a break from her old job as a wardrobe assistant, where she was working on a fast food commercial. "I snuck my guitar into my hotel room and wrote it at the end of a long, boring day," she explains. "Sometimes it's just good to have a big scream, isn't it?"
It is. Wet Leg is cathartic and joyful and punk and scuzzy and above all, it's fun. "Wet Leg was originally just supposed to be funny” says Rhian. More and more people are now in on the joke with the two of them, but that spirit remains at the centre of what they do. “Home is now behind you. The world is ahead” concludes Hester.
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