Wet: Don't You

Wet. Wet? Wet! Rarely has a band been so aptly named.


Don't You

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2016-01-29
UK Release Date: 2016-01-29

That band name should've been a giveaway. Wet. It's bloody obvious now but 2013's hipster hyped debut EP held much promise, particularly the charming "Don't Wanna Be Your Girl" that featured Carole King-esque wistfulness set to crisp beats à la Massive Attack's "Teardrop". This too-cool-for-school Brooklyn trio of angel-voiced songwriter Kelly Zutrau, axeman Marty Sulkow and studio wizard Joe Valle were surely on a fast track to dinner party soundtrack heaven. The talk o' the town, next big things to be filed smoothly betwixt your 180g vinyl of the XX and London Grammar. Their cheekily titled website – – proved they had a sharp sense of humour too. What's not to love? It was all agreed. Contracts were signed. 2016! "Monsoon Mania: Everyone gets Wet!" Damn, if only it wasn't so very, well, Wet.

Don't You arrives then with high hopes and great expectations. Recent single "It’s All in Vain" appears at first to be an understated, low key introduction. A gentle warm-up perhaps before the main event. Zutrau's poetic lilt is as bright-eyed 'n' box-fresh as we remember pirouetting somewhere around Dolores O'Riordan and Dido. There's sensual, state-of-the-art shuffly beats and expertly timed piano chords. It's all professionally clean and coolly cut. Zutrau pines romantically for her "Baby" though we suspect they're not of the "Infant baby" variety. Another single, "Deadwater" follows. More glossy aesthetics and lovestruck angst. You picture the trio in a white room, resplendent in white suits, draped over an ivory piano with an easy breeze tickling the curtains. So immaculately refined but let's be honest we're already looking at our watch.

"I'm not living right." Hey here comes "Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl". Hurrah! Zutrau's tough talking lyrics bring some much needed bite to all this tastefully polite decor, "I just wanna see you up and out out of the door." Yeah! Footstompin' and fingerclickin' good, if only the rest of Don't You was this vivacious. "Weak" follows and its title is again appropriate. The heroine from "Girl" has left the building and been replaced by a stalkerish ex-lover. "Baby, Baby, Baby please don't leave me" it sobs with its arms now grasped firmly around your leg, "Baby please don't leave me!"

As well as possessing more "Baby's" than a maternity hospital during a staggeringly busy "Baby Boom Bonanza", Don't You has some serious abandonment issues. The lyrics are littered with lovers' leaving / being kicked out, the subsequent loneliness and the pining for their return. Despite the candlelit, Valentine sheen this is a troubled record sometimes to the point of (gentle) mania. Take "Island", which arrives like a mentalist outside their lover's house at 3AM. "Say you need me / Hold me down! Like you want me! Just say the words!" it calls over ticking clocks, weeping violins, slow floating swampfog and ghostly childlike piano. "SAY YOU NEED ME!" During "Small and Silver", Zutrau further demands to either be left on a mountain, drowned at sea or alternatively put in "A clown car". It's got to be the latter surely. What's most disturbing though is how all this sad, passive aggressive desperation is continually accompanied by the same blandly beige, sterilized "No sharp objects" production again and again. "Leave me, leave me", "Silver" sighs, unsurprisingly. Yeah, whatever.

It's a long night folks. More sparse, shuffly beats. More polite piano chords. More babies. "Move Me" is elevator Muzak for the cuckoo's nest. Again you wait in vain for the rush that never comes. The ol' sonic defibrillator to the heart. "Call me by my real name / Call me crazy" it cries. Elsewhere the anaesthetised, slow clapping "Body" carries all the ambience of a funeral march. "I never knew I'd be so lonely," exhales Zutrau, "Shake me 'til I fall apart". It's hard not to share her frustration.

"I'm so tired from all this losing." Despite the drab "Leave me! No wait, DON'T leave Me!" dampness, there are moments where Don't You slips its shackles and shows you what could have been. "All the Ways" brings this waterlogged wasteland some radiant sunbeams. A bouncy bootyshaker with a touch of TLC. It's alive, alive! It may still decree "I don't ever wanna leave you", but it's on its feet even if the pay-off proves ominous, "Everytime I see your face / I think of all the the ways that this could end." Quick lock the backdoor! 2013's clear-eyed, Feist-bright, sparkler "You’re the Best" similarly still shines brighter than Doris Day and for three heavenly minutes it's a wonderful world. “I still feel lonely” though Zutrau confesses as the blue skies roll on. But it's the frail, delicate closer "These Days" co-written with Chairlift's Patrick Wimberly that hits hardest. One dusty piano. A creaky cello. The heartfelt vocal. "I am away from you." It's wonderful. You want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain, right?

Wet's debut is the kind of record that makes you want to live more dangerously. Y'know dance under ladders. Eat a hearty meal before swimming. Wear a Mankini to a job interview. Marry a horse. Change your name to "Jar Jar Binks". Anything that'll make life more exciting. Basically anything but wade back through the stillwaters of Don't You anytime soon. Its insular lack of adventure ultimately delivers disappointingly dull listening. Dive for the modest jewels and swim away baby, this one's a bit of a drip.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.