Two years ago in a world not too impossible to imagine, Wet could have been to New York what The xx are to London; a three-piece emphasising on emotion and vulnerability through cotton candy-soft vocals and innocent synths.
Except now the times have a-changed. After an EP and a debut on Columbia, Wet have returned a duo. The reveal was surprising; Wet was formed six years ago by three close friends. For a long-term friend to leave must not have been easy for a band on the rise. Endorsements flooded from a variety of publications, like The FADER who placed them on their Gen F list, and even soundtracked an Instagram video of Khloé Kardashian flipping her hair. With the release of their sophomore album, it is hard to believe how this is the same band Billboard touted as: “the toast of the tastemakers”.
Wet have yet to give an official statement regarding the departure of guitarist Marty Sulkow. Instead the music does all the (figurative) talking. ‘Still Run’ is a tighter, at times more efficient, album. The ten songs are more direct and are far less underwritten than their debut record. The Rostam-produced ‘You’re Not Wrong’ exudes character. aAsprinkle of piano fills the chorus while a typically funky bass carries the song. Even Kelly Zutrau‘s trademark restraint is exchanged for some Lauren Mayberry-esque in-your-face attitude.
Opener ‘Still Run’ is a well-structured, balanced cut that flaunts their writing credentials. Featuring Starchild & The New Romantic, it could pass off as a Girls Aloud ballad with its head-swaying, all-togetherness. The title track would make for a respectable album closer with its spacious arrangements.
Side A is kinetic and consistent. Filled mostly with singles (4 of the 5 are pre-released), it is stellar yet subdued. ‘Lately’ is the most suitable track to slip into their debut; Zutrua appears confrontational lyrically but reserved vocally: “I just get so insecure, And you always make me guilty just for wanting something more” is sung shyly. More often than not, ‘Still Run’ could go hand-in-hand with London Grammar‘s latest effort.
That does mean, however, that this album does fall short in several aspects. Just like the dream pop trio’s sophomore ‘Truth Is a Beautiful Thing’, Wet‘s second album feels empty. There are some captivating moments but after the forty minutes are up, you do wonder if that was it. Piano ballad ’11 Hours’ is sweet yet ineffective. So is its follow-up ‘This Woman Loves You’. The mellow echoed drums are distant while the effect-laden vocals are cold. For a song with such an honest title, you would hope for something with more, well, love.
‘Visitor’ goes a long way to display Wet‘s potential. Over five minutes long, it takes time to blossom but once strings gather and drums pick up momentum, it is powerful and entrancing. It is also a rare moment where Zutrau‘s vocals are noteworthy. The chorus wants to soundtrack an emotional climax in an indie rom-com while Kelly Zutrau just wants to sing to that special someone (“If you’re looking for a home/Well, maybe I could be one.”)
Compared to recent records from Now, Now or the aforementioned The xx, ‘Still Run’ strikes as redundant. Wet have cornered themselves with their sound, but on their sophomore they have redecorated it to get comfortable. ‘Still Run’ could have been the album to make Wet one of the most beloved bands in the indie scene – an album to lift them into Google-able territory – but it refuses to ask for attention. Instead it seems sufficient just being there, another album for a stranger to pick up and fall in love with. It is just a shame that there are so few lovable moments to cherish.
‘Still Run’ is out now via Columbia Records.