Wet - Don't You (Album Review)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

It’s fascinating to examine the influence that post-digital thinking has had on modern music. We increasingly find ourselves in a landscape where technology is used to transmit the most powerful human emotions and Brooklyn pop trio Wet are a good example of the phenomenon. Their debut album, ‘Don’t You’, feels like a drawn-out song cycle that’s fixated on conveying one mood very distinctly – that of intimacy.  

The core sound is recognisable: softly layered synth pads create washed out soundscapes that evoke chillwave acts like, funnily enough, Washed Out, who emerged only a few years ago. And yet, thanks to the influence of modern hip-hop production, among other things, the goalposts have already been moved. Wet’s atmospheric pop brew is characterised by rumbling sub bass, tinny hi-hats and clapped snares. Somehow, these elements don’t sound out of place.​

It’s this incredibly marketable cocktail that resulted in the band’s self-titled EP being followed by a surge of major label interest and their eventual signing with Columbia. Somewhat inevitably, then, the final product is a bit of a disappointment.

The main issue is a lack of depth. The Wet sound largely revolves around the voice of Kelly Zutrau, who brings to mind a more rustic Jessie Ware. Though her yearning lyrics are pretty bog-standard, she tends to carry many of the tracks with her vocal melodies. Lead single Deadwater is particularly lovely, with dreamy piano backing and a pulsating chorus.

Unfortunately, this is a formula Wet utilise again and again: a floating three/four-chord melody with subtle backing leads into a reverb-heavy chorus where Zutrau is practically drowned out for effect. In fact, it’s hard to tell when some tracks end and others begin, such is their fondness for repeating it. So many songs here are comfortable without being truly touching, partly because you can barely hear what Zutrau is saying.

There are individual highlights among the fog. The intertwining harmonies and tasteful strings on Island make for one of the more glorious climaxes on the album. Elsewhere, Zutrau’s vocals take a more fragile turn on Small and Silver, harking back to her pre-Wet acoustic folk days. On closing track These Days the band even branches out, playing with some more unorthodox chord progressions – arguably too little too late.  

The reason these moments stand out is because they deviate from the band’s set approach, which is for the most part rigorously bland. This is mood music – you’d probably enjoy hearing it on an aeroplane or at the dentist but not many other places. If Wet are “art pop”, as a few critics have called them, prepare to worry about the industry’s standards. They deserve points for presentation, but this is largely processed pop covered with an Instagram filter.

Wet Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri March 18 2016 - BRIGHTON Brighton Patterns
Sat March 19 2016 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Mon March 21 2016 - GLASGOW Broadcast
Tue March 22 2016 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Wed March 23 2016 - LONDON Scala

Click here to compare & buy Wet Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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