“This is so funny. What are we doing here?” Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale asked bemusedly last weekend (February 5). She and her bandmates were standing on the Grammys stage, collecting their first shiny gramophone of the night (and their careers) and reacting as if they’d stepped into a parallel universe.
At tonight’s (February 11) BRITs, the fairytale continued – another double for Britain’s indie band of the moment. More shell-shocked giggles soundtracked their acceptance speeches while Teasdale nodded to their label mates Arctic Monkeys as she recited part of Alex Turner’s infamous “that rock’n’roll” speech from the same awards show in 2014. The Isle Of Wight band being lauded by awards bodies, other musicians, media and fans around the world might be a surprise to the artists themselves but, to those paying close attention since summer 2021, these award wins feel like a logical next step in an incredible, charmed story.
When Wet Leg formed, Teasdale and guitarist Hester Chambers decided to make fun their number one goal. They’d both previously tried to make a go of music only to end up working different jobs – Teasdale as a stylist and Chambers at her parents’ jewellery business. “Making it” didn’t seem like it was on the cards for them as musicians, but they still kept playing and writing between work.
Then, they scored a deal with Domino before releasing a single song – although they already had written most of their debut album. In July 2021, they finally unveiled themselves to the world with their debut single ‘Chaise Longue’, almost instantly igniting a blaze of acclaim and praise for the band that has only burned brighter in the months and years since. Packed festival tents, sold-out gigs on whirlwind, relentless tours, a Number One album and support slots with the likes of Harry Styles followed, and, now, plenty of coveted trophies.
While indie hasn’t died since Alex Turner dropped his microphone on the BRITs stage, it’s been far from the dominant genre in British music – or anywhere in the world, for that matter – in recent years. Despite that, Wet Leg have inspired the kind of reaction bands used to be greeted with, reviving a mid-noughties phenomenon of guitar-wielding groups owning both festival and awards show stages, bringing giddy chaos with them.
Fun is precisely why they’ve managed to elicit that response. They’re a colourful, silly break from the dark, serious shit we have to deal with in the other 99 per cent of our day. When their debut single ‘Chaise Longue’ heralded their arrival in 2021, it felt like a burst of brightness after the doom and gloom of pandemic lockdowns, while its repetitive, absurd lyrics simultaneously matched the stir-crazy feeling you were often overwhelmed by in that period of barely being able to leave the house.
Even when they’re writing and singing about sadder subjects than buttering muffins, the band often fallback on humour as a way of keeping things from getting too heavy, be that comparing an ex to excrement in a toilet bowl in ‘Piece Of Shit’ or turning a former partner into a drooling, lewd caricature on ‘Wet Dream’. “I always try to dilute serious things with humour, I think,” Teasdale explained in Wet Leg’s NME cover story last year. “It’s a very human thing.”
We might be relatively back to “normal” now, but fun is in more dire need than ever and bands like Wet Leg just as vital. Not only do they provide an exhilarating escape from the mundanity of everyday life, they also serve as a reminder that focusing on what’s really important rather than taking a calculated path to success is the key to actually triumphing in this life. Wet Leg have nailed it and, now, they get to reap the “magical” – as they described the Grammys – rewards for what looks like a long time to come.
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