BEST NEW TRACK: WET - 11 HOURS
Brooklyn's Wet trade in the quirky art pop for soulful r&b-infused folk on "11 Hours."
The second album can be a stumbling block for many bands. After all, they've likely had their entire lives to prepare for their first record. Then there's their formative years, as a band, when they begin to find ground and get their feet beneath them, settling on a sound that will get them noticed. It stands to reason that their fans would become attached to that sound as it's what drew them to the band in the first place.
It's the negative principle of the sophomore slump, brought on by the entropic physics of people's expectation. In the case of Brooklyn now-duo Wet, fans have grown attached to the band's quirky, funky, new wave-indebted art pop, and for good reason. Wet have proven to be adept at welding '80s-style prog/art rock, a la Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins, with a shimmering modern sheen. They're particularly good at playing '80s resurrectionists, enough so to be named The Fader's Most Promising new band in 2015.
While Wet's debut, Don't You, sounded like a precocious young band with a particularly deep and savvy record collection, their newest statement, Still Run, has grown, stretched, and matured. "11 Hours" is a particularly fine example of this maturation, while still holding true to their core sound.
WET - 11 HOURS
"11 Hours" plays to Wet's strengths, most notably the caramel sweet, brogue-ish vocals of Kelly Zutrau and the detailed production of Joe Valle, but they've married their sound to a more traditional era, in this instance, vintage Nashville. There's a retro-classicism on "11 Hours," with soaring strings, backing choirs, and pedal steel guitar. It's got a rootsier, down-home edge as well, with acoustic guitars serving as a setting for Vutrau's bejewelled vocals.
Not everyone's happy about it, of course. Some feel like the bands moving into joyless territory, that heavy hearts and big room production weighs the band down, preventing them from soaring. This is essentially asking Wet not to grow up. Frankly, for Wet to turn in another sparkling Vaporwave-soaked '80s art forgery would have sounded disingenuous, the musical equivalent of a 40-year old mall goth in wide-legged raver pants decked out in chains.
No, Wet are actually growing, maturing, aging. Yet they're maintaining the core of who they are and what they're about. Innovation comes together with classicism on Still Run, in general, and "11 Hours" in particular. Here's to 12 more records. Here's to growth. Here's to life.
We Are: The Guard recommend "11 Hours" for your next break-up mixtape. Or seduction playlist. It works for both, and that alone is saying something.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.