Album reviews: Wet Leg – Wet Leg, and Camila Cabello – Familia

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·3-min read
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Rhiann Teasdale and Hester Chambers of Wet Leg  (Hollie Fernando)
Rhiann Teasdale and Hester Chambers of Wet Leg (Hollie Fernando)

Wet Let – Wet Leg

★★★★☆

How do you follow a hit like “Chaise Longue”? The idiosyncratic, instantly catchy track was the slingshot for Wet Leg, an indie-rock duo made up of BFFs Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers. It was hokey and fantastic. A playful post-punk number that opened with a dick joke and quoted Mean Girls. It racked up playlist spots and endorsements from Elton John, Florence Welch, and Iggy Pop. Dave Grohl says there are nights the Foo Fighters listen to it on repeat. So again, how do you follow a hit like “Chaise Longue”? For Wet Leg, the answer is apparently obvious – with a hit album, duh.

The band’s self-titled debut arrives a year after that viral success, and is testament to the fact that sometimes hype does get it right. The proof is in the pudding; that pudding being a deliciously prickly collection of songs as lyrically bawdy as ever. “Wet Dream” is an album highlight. It’s a ferocious un-love song written as a riposte to a text from an ex, with choppy guitar and shouty vocals calling to mind the electro dance hits of riot grrrl icons Le Tigre.

In vocals that vacillate between taunting melody and rage, Teasdale and Chambers speak to their twenty-something peers in a language they know: work is dull, dating apps are awful, parties aren’t as fun as they used to be, death is (thankfully?) inevitable. “At least we are all going to die,” shrugs Teasdale on “I Don’t Wanna Go Out”, a track that finds the typically erratic-sounding pair in a mellow moment. On Wet Leg, existential ennui never sounded so fun. AN

Camila Cabello – Familia

★★★☆☆

In the years since her breakthrough 2017 hit “Havana”, Camila Cabello’s voice has changed. She used to be able to flit between a sultry lower register to an agile soprano; there were inflections, and plenty of personality. On her new album Familia, though, her voice is almost as thin as the songs themselves.

Familia is the Cuban-American artist’s first album to include tracks in Spanish, beginning with the breezy title song. It bursts in on a dramatic Mariachi trumpet, before diving into a cool pool of electric guitar licks. But the tranquil vibe is disrupted by Cabello herself, whose delivery sounds uncomfortably strained. On “No Doubt”, she croaks and rasps her way around each syllable; perky single “Bam Bam”, her second Ed Sheeran duet, is a battle for who can sound the most reedy.

Cabello has said this album is more “honest” than her previous works, but there’s nothing as poignant as “First Man”, from 2019’s Romance, or the vulnerable “Consequences” from her self-titled debut. Instead, there are entire songs built on a single hook (the disoriented “Psycho Freak” ft WILLOW) and tracks that should nod to her heritage but feel more like bashed-out pastiches (“La Buena Vida”). Other moments on the record, such as “Boys Don’t Cry” and “No Doubt”, just leave you cold. Familia is but a faint impression of what Cabello is truly capable of. ROC

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