Photo: Hollie Fernando

2022 Mercury Prize with FREE NOW A brief look into… Wet Leg’s ‘Wet Leg’

Ahead of the 2022 Mercury Prize with FREE NOW, we’ve taken a brief look at some of the shortlisted albums.

It seems borderline ridiculous to think that, a mere 13 months before they were announced on the shortlist for 2022’s Mercury Prize with FREE NOW, no one had heard of Wet Leg.

Undoubtedly the past year’s most talked about, all-conquering breakthrough success, the trajectory of Isle of Wight best pals Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers has been as vertically skyward as their debut ‘Chaise Longue’ was horizontal. That track landed in mid-June of 2021 as a perfect nugget of ramshackle, nonsensical indie gold: the ideal sonic bedfellow to a world gone wonky during lockdown, desperate to get back out and tear it up IRL once more. Full of brilliantly idiosyncratic missives (show us a more quoted line than “Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” and we’ll show you a liar) and a rollocking crescendo of guitars, it was an opening statement that captured and completely owned a moment like few songs can ever claim to.

Yet, whilst ‘Chaise Longue’ could have easily sounded the one hit wonder death knell for a lesser band, Wet Leg had their next moves all planned out. Having signed to Domino during the pandemic, spending the subsequent period bunkering down to complete their debut whilst still completely anonymous, by the time the world had begun to fall in love with them the band already had a record ready to go. Enter ‘Wet Leg’: an album, crucially, created before any of the crashing hype had even approached their front door and that rings with an untainted sense of joy, naivety and excitement because of it.

“Wet Leg were created with a focus on fun rather than (ironically) any initial dreams of big success, and their debut fulfils that giddy brief with aplomb.”

Both in their mid-twenties and having played in numerous bands previously, it’s not that either Teasdale or Chambers were particularly green to the music game. Indeed, in their April 2022 DIY cover feature, Teasdale noted that Wet Leg’s audible alchemy was likely born from having gone through the mill and come out thinking, f**k it. “It’s funny that the moment you stop trying and just give up on something, it clicks,” she said. Instead - much like fellow shortlisted band Yard Act - Wet Leg were created with a focus on fun rather than (ironically) any initial dreams of big success, and their debut fulfils that giddy brief with aplomb.

Nodding to the great and good of indie past - from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs scuzz of ‘Oh No’, to the wide-eyed jangles of opener ‘Being In Love’, to the Le Tigre-adjacent dancefloor potential of ‘Ur Mum’ - everything about ‘Wet Leg’ felt immediately like a classic indie debut. In turns big-hearted and lovelorn, sassy and sarcastic, and - on more than one occasion - far ruder than the two women wearing cottagecore chic in all their press shots might suggest, it presented a band indebted to guitar music past but filtering it all through their own weird and wonderful lens.

Whether chiding a former flame for having the audacity to fantasise about her on second single ‘Wet Dream’ (which now has even more streams than ‘Chaise Longue’) or “practising [her] longest and loudest scream” on the aforementioned ‘Ur Mum’, Teasdale’s lyrics have already developed their own language - a cheeky Wet Leg-ness that’s immediately distinct. Coupled with the quieter Chambers, the pair make for a classic double act: Pete and Carl but with less drugs and more bonnets, if you will.

Already storming their way across the Atlantic and onto US television, as well as selling out shows and smashing festivals around the world, Wet Leg have everything in place to become the next truly massive UK indie success story. A crowning nod from the Mercury Prize with FREE NOW committee would be the cherry on top.

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Watch the 2022 Mercury Prize with FREE NOW ‘Album of the Year’ Awards Show live on BBC Four from 9pm on Thursday, 8 September 2022. There will be an exciting line-up of live performances from the shortlisted artists. Playing live are Fergus McCreadie, Gwenno, Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler, Joy Crookes, Kojey Radical, Little Simz, Nova Twins, Sam Fender, Self Esteem, Wet Leg and Yard Act. Harry Styles will be represented by a filmed live performance. The programme will culminate in the announcement of the overall winner of the 2022 Mercury Prize with FREE Now for ‘Album of the Year’.

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