Thursday, February 18, 2016

Don't You | Wet

Don't You, the debut album from dreamy synthpop outfit Wet, rarely leaves a hushed whisper, as if it is a lightly-treading vessel that is to make no more than a few ripples on the surface of a calm lake. Frontwoman Kelly Zutrau, a wispy vocal reincarnate of Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry, makes her job seem effortless; she nearly breathes, rather than sings, her way through lyrics soaked in her own heartbreak and longing. (Not to mention that those lyrics are also literally -- and fittingly -- wet; they make more references to water than Florence Welch has to date).

As opening number "It's All in Vain" closes, it leaves listeners with an accurate taste of what Wet serves... and leaves them with a craving for more, which is great, considering the album consists of similarly glimmering moments. In fact, that's all the album is: the magic of one successful track stretched across ten more tracks, each only slightly different from the next, that are all derivatives of the same cross-breed of PBR&B, dreampop, and synthpop. A careless ear may argue that the tracks stagnate as the album runs its course -- but attentiveness will grant the discovery of some subtle sonic blossoms that add a little sparkle to each track and that, in some cases, take most of a track's length to make themselves apparent.

Zutrau and her two bandmates, Marty Sulkow and Joe Valle, have condensed familiar sentiments into straight-forward, yet still quite poetic, stanzas. Her voice occupies very little of the ample room left for her in the sparse soundscapes as she whimpers through the stages of a dying relationship and subsequent break-up. We hear it all unfold: the final flickers of the honeymoon stage ("Weak"), the anticipation of the break-up ("All the Ways," "All in Vain"), the realization of the end ("Don't Wanna Be Your Girl"), and the remaining fragility long after it's all over ("These Days").

A common downfall of albums with dreampop sensibilities, the overall atmosphere is of higher importance than distinction here; all twelve tracks are close cousins -- perhaps a bit too close -- and the trio doesn't present a distinct personality outside the heartbreak of which Zutrau sings. Without sharing much about herself, she embodies feelings that many can empathize with, though. As was the case with Say Lou Lou's Lucid Dreaming last year, entranced listeners can sit back to enjoy the entire 40-minute experience without a worry over what each three minute increment of the journey is titled, but by the time it winds to a close, defining specifics of Don't You will be all but a haze. 

Don't You is out now under Columbia Records.

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