Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?
- 'Chaise Longue'
Wet Leg is the debut album from Isle of Wight group Wet Leg. Written and recorded during lockdown and released in 2022 to great acclaim, it is the first album by an Isle of Wight act to be UK Number One. Not only were they number one in the chart, but also in the first week they easily outsold the rest of the top five combined. A worldwide hit, the album was also number one in Australia and a top ten hit in Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Belgium. Unusually the band went from forming to instant international success during a worldwide pandemic that had prevented them from ever playing live at any venues. Deceptively simple, the best word to summarise the album is simply 'fun'. And the album is best enjoyed while reclining on a chaise longue.
Wet Leg – the Band
Wet Leg is an Indie Britpop post-punk rock group that came together in 2019, consisting of Rhian Teasdale1, 28, and 27-year-old Hester Chambers2. The songs are written by them both, with Teasdale providing the lead vocals and performing rhythm guitar while Chambers performs lead guitar and backing vocals. The girls had met at the Isle of Wight College in 2009 but took a decade to decide to form a group together. They decided on the name by trying to find a name that could be spelt with emoji, trying different emoji combinations before settling on 'wet leg'. They enjoyed the ambiguity that such a memorable name provides, as well as that a 'wet leg' is an Isle of Wight term for someone who lives on the Island but is not from there, and who therefore travelled over the Solent to get to it. However, they have also insisted that the name has no meaning and said, 'Ultimately it can mean whatever you want it to mean.'
Their backing band includes Henry Holmes on drums and percussion, Ellis Durand on bass and Joshua Omead Mobaraki on other instruments. The girls had previously played both solo and in other bands, such as 'Hester and the Red Squirrel Band', performing on the Isle of Wight without much success. Rhian Teasdale had previously performed solo as RHAIN, playing keyboards on quite introspective songs. They had previously played and sung together while supporting other acts, with Rhian playing keyboard for Chambers on occasions and Chambers helping Rhian by providing backing guitar. They decided to form a band together while at the top of a Ferris wheel at the End of the Road Festival. Teasdale has explained:
Initially, we started the band because we wanted to get free entry into festivals, 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. 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. 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 was a slightly patronising pat on the back and, 'Sure you are'.
The style of their music has been variously described, including as 'bubblegum-grunge', though Teasdale has described the aim of the band with the words:
We wanted to have more fun than every other single band. We agreed on the premise of our band there and then: as long as you're having fun, then everything will be alright, and we've told ourselves that we'll stick to that always.
This determination to simply have fun and be willing to try numerous different styles and constantly experiment comes across in their songs and particularly their surreal and psychedelic music videos.
Tracklist: I just need a Bubble Bath to set me on a Higher Path
The album was recorded in April 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic, before the band had even been legally allowed to play a single live gig. Six of the songs – shown Bold - have also been released as singles, with critically acclaimed music videos. Wet Leg was released on 8 April, 2022 and consists of the following tracks:
- Being In Love
- Chaise Longue - their breakthrough hit.
- I Don't Wanna Go Out
- Wet Dream
- Loving You
- Ur Mum
- Oh No
- Piece of Shit
- Too Late Now
The songs themselves are quite short, with the shortest, 'Being in Love', two minutes and three seconds long with the longest, 'Angelica', three minutes and 52 seconds. A common theme of their songs is relationships, particularly break-ups and dealing with ex-partners.
Their first single, 'Chaise Longue'3, was released in June 2021 and quickly went viral, with the music video and song gaining millions of views and streams. The song has been nominated for 'Breakthrough Artist of the Year' and 'Video of the Year' awards, and was even used in an episode of US TV show Gossip Girl (2021). The song was written by Rhian Teasdale as she sat on Hester Chambers' grandfather's chaise longue and includes a quote from film Mean Girls (2004), 'Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?' Chambers has since said that she still has the chaise longue in her flat, which Teasdale has slept on when visiting, and has described making the video themselves with the words:
The house in the video is my mum's house and stuff like the rocking horse were still there from my childhood. We didn't really overthink it and made use of what we had. Rhian's sister Kayleigh helped out – she drove a car whilst my boyfriend Joshua sat in the boot filming us. We'd never shot a video before so it was a real learning curve.
Their second song, 'Wet Dream', gave the public the defining image of the girls, singing deadpan in old-fashioned clothes with lobster claws. And this at a time that Chambers described by saying they had only played four gigs, 'including three on the Isle of Wight to our family'4. 'Too Late Now' has a music video featuring cucumbers, walking around outside dressed in dressing gowns, rubber ducks and how modern life is complicated - but nothing that can't be solved with a bubble bath. The Isle of Wight features heavily in their music videos – the video for 'Angelica' was filmed at St Catherine's Lighthouse, the southernmost point of the Isle of Wight while 'Oh No' was filmed at Alum Bay, near the easternmost point of the Island, with the girls dressed as spaghetti yeti. Yet despite this association with the Island, they cheekily deliberately spelt 'Wight' as 'White' in a newspaper headline to be annoying in their video for 'Ur Mum' and to reference a frequent mistake made by the ignorant.
Teasdale had previously been a wardrobe assistant for Ed Sheeran's music videos and so designed the band's 'serious hat-wearing cottage core lady' look. They were given a record deal after they had written only two songs, with early songs about being abducted by aliens not making the album's cut. Their motto is to ensure that their songs are fun, yet their humour remains offbeat and deadpan. When other girl groups are full of fake smiles and false facades, their mix of bemused angst is delightfully refreshing.
The group and their album has been promoted with appearances on BBC flagship music programme Later… with Jools Holland (1992+) in November 2021 and shortly after the album's release in May 2022. The album has attracted rave reviews in music magazines such as NME, Variety and Rolling Stone as well as in reputable newspapers across the political spectrum. The album does contain occasional sex references and rude words as well as the longest and loudest scream.
When they heard that the album was at number one, the band announced via their Twitter account:
So today we found out that our debut album has placed at number one in the UK album charts!! It's been such an unexpected journey for us hobbits so to find our shmalbum at number 1 is incredible!! We are lost for words and left feeling like we're wearing our mum's high heels
Following the hype of their stylish and surreal videos, the album's cover is simple and effective, and perfectly shows what the band's focus is, with the two girls after they had come off stage with their arms around each other as if they are sharing a secret – or good joke.
Both the album and the band itself have enjoyed their success. The band came second in BBC Radio 1's Sound of 2022 poll and in late 2022 the album was nominated for the Mercury Prize, an annual music prize awarded for the best album released in the UK by a British or Irish act. In 2022 Wet Leg played many of the world's largest music festivals, including the Isle of Wight Festival, naturally, and Glastonbury. The BBC's coverage of Glastonbury Festival used the middle of the chorus from 'Wet Dream' when Rhian Teasdale says 'Let's begin!' as their Glastonbury coverage sting5 and it was also used in Love Island6. During their performance of 'Ur Mum' at that festival when performing the 'longest and loudest scream', the thousands of fans screamed right back in what the BBC news website described as one of the festival's highlights: 'After a count of three, [Teasdale] unleashes a sound of pure sonic force that's become a high point of the band's live shows. But one woman is no match for 10,000 fans, and when Teasdale's scream was directed back at the stage, it literally blew her off her feet.'
Harry Styles has also performed 'Wet Dream' live, though half-heartedly as he did not wear lobster claws during his performance. The Chaise Longue house was also put up for sale in 2022. In July 2022 former US President Barack Obama declared himself a Wet Leg fan when he tweeted that Wet Leg's 'Angelica' was on his summer playlist.
No lobster-clawed popstars were harmed in the making of this album