Sensual and instrumentally seductive, Wet is breaking onto the R&B scene with their sights set on the mainstream.
The trio consists of lead vocalist and songwriter Kelly Zutrau, as well as producers and multi-instrumentalists Joe Valle and Marty Sulkow. The three met in college in New York City, became friends and were briefly in a folk band called Beauty Feast in 2007, which was comprised of seven members. In 2013, Wet dropped their debut, self-titled EP with indie label Neon Gold, the label responsible in some part for the success and exposure of acts like Gotye, Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding. The project was well-received by critics and gained Wet a hefty New York following; “I Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl,” the lead track from the project, currently sits at 17 million plays on Spotify.
Now Wet is out with their debut studio album under Columbia Records, Don’t You. If you’ve never heard Wet, their sound is a sort of dreamy R&B that never forgets its pop and electronic influences. Dark, sweeping synths create an atmospheric background for Zutrau’s sugary vocals. On Don’t You, the trio have their sound down to a formula; the album is so cohesive and consistent that some listeners might find it repetitive. Kelly Zutrau’s lyrics are deceptively dead-simple and very accessible, with a focus on her melancholic view of relationships. “Happy in your arms/Twist until we fall apart/I feel like no one loves me, loves me.” These lines from the second to last track, “Body,” sum up the type of feelings that make up Don’t You. The distant lyrics but optimistic tone makes Wet quintessential breakup music.
All the songs that comprise Don’t You focus on broken relationships save for the fourth track, “Weak,” but you wouldn’t know it from listening. Though the song isn’t sonically or tonally different, lyrically it focuses on a positive feeling of love or at least an infatuated one. Overall the album never strays from its beaten trail, but that trail is no less familiar, relatable and intoxicatingly immersive.
The release of Don’t You has been no small event in music either. Wet made their late night debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and their new album was recently released and welcomed with open arms. Wet has been playing shows consistently to a devoted New York following but they are finally breaching the mainstream, kicking off the album’s release with a North American and European tour.
The band played Le Ritz PDB on Feb. 2, performing to a packed house. The most striking element of Wet’s live performance is how similar it sounds to their recorded material. Zutrau’s voice is really as airy and whimsical as is showcased on their album. In addition to this, the backing instrumentation was entirely electronic with the exception of some live drums. The band’s stage presence was rather understated, with very little communication with the crowd. The show felt more like a spectacle than an interactive experience. While this fits their moody, distant sonic aesthetic, the vibe in the room was more that of a listening party for Don’t You than a concert. Though it’s unlikely skeptics left the show newborn fans, going in a Wet buff was a resoundingly satisfying experience.
This kind of epitomizes what Wet is about; they are methodical, focused and unapologetic with their sound. The trio creates concise, emotionally evocative music that can hold its own among some of the heavy-hitters in alternative R&B today.