Release Date: Jan 29, 2016
Record label: Columbia
Wet get one moment right — perfect, really — then stretch it out into an entire album on Don't You. The Brooklyn trio's debut draws power from a softly lurching weightlessness, the few seconds of suspended animation when the whole world falls away and you have few seconds of peace before gravity pulls you down. Their sound is a play on dreamy synth-pop, with keyboards that move like slow-motion waterfalls and guitars that tick-tock with digital precision — sometimes it's all so Eighties, it's like they're teaching a master class in Madonna's "Live to Tell." The rhythm tracks don't swing so much as sigh, nodding gently in the direction of the boom-bap of hip-hop or the winding grind of R&B, every syncopation like a held breath.
Kelly Zutrau knows a thing or two about heartbreak. Fronting Wet on their debut album ‘Don’t You’, she has a habit of piercing silence with cutting truths. She’ll dismiss hopeless chancers trying to string on to the dying embers of a relationship on ‘It’s All in Vain’, and ‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl’ is more a future-paving declaration than a simple refusal.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Kelly Zutrau, lead songwriter and vocalist of Brooklyn-based woozy R&B pop trio Wet, has clearly had enough heartbreak to last a lifetime; digging into wounds so deep she's managed to find enough inspiration to fill the 11 tracks that make up their debut album Don't You. There's nothing wrong with an album inspired solely by heartache; you just need to listen to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours or Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago for proof of that (even more so if it's an album of fabled sadbangers).
If Kelly Zutrau doesn’t want to be your girl no more, man, you must have really messed up. The lead singer and chief songwriter of Wet is admittedly obsessed with all the ways coupling can result in mutually assured destruction, but her demands for a healthy relationship actually seem pretty reasonable. “When you say you love me, baby, let me see your face,” she asks on “It’s All in Vain”, the opening track of Wet’s full-length debut, Don’t You.
On Wet's delicately pretty Don't You, the young trio from Brooklyn offers a sweet debut brimming with innocence, romance, and the sometimes uncertain moments that float in between, enveloping those empty spaces with a comforting embrace. Much of Wet's strength lies in the angelic vocals that glide over the warm-textured atmospherics. Here, Kelly Zutrau confidently delivers breathless coos and confident pleas that draw focus to the lyrical tenderness -- whether she's lamenting a fading love with resignation or proclaiming her devotion -- while Joseph Valle and Martin Sulkow create flowing soundscapes that shimmer like water at sunset.
Thanks to a renewed interest in exploring sensuality, a new modern take on R&B has become one of the more lasting musical trends this current decade. Credit acts like Sade and Everything But the Girl as the inspiration, but so far we've been spoiled by the work of newcomers like the xx, Jessie Ware, Sampha and Tinashe, among others. Brooklyn's Wet, a trio consisting of singer/songwriter Kelly Zutrau, and multi-instrumentalists/producers Marty Sulkow and Joe Valle, made waves in 2013 with their self-titled EP, and yet it's felt like an eternity since that first dropped, making Don't You both highly anticipated and slightly late to the party.
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.
At some point during the past year or so, adult contemporary R&B became au courant—blame nostalgia, blame retromania, blame folks in their twenties jonesing for the music they loved when they were eight—and it’s been disorienting. Some good can come of this: smashing up the canon, rediscovering some classics that got left out of pop culture’s ongoing "I Love the '90s"-ization, recognizing that Diane Warren is actually kind of a national treasure. Some good albums have come of it too—Solange’s True, Jessie Ware’s Tough Love, Dornik’s self-titled.
Brooklyn-based dream-pop band Wet makes an understandable but rookie mistake on its debut album Don’t You: It overproduces the hell out of it. Delicate melodies and airy vocals are often practically drowned in a wash of synth-laden effects, smoothing out any and all rough edges, and turning the album into an overly homogenous affair in the process. The stylistic impulse isn’t surprising: Lead singer Kelly Zutrau has cited the influence of lush ’90s R&B pop on the band, and you can hear the attempt to replicate those retro-friendly vibes on every track.
WET’S DEBUT LP, Don’t You, feels like a series of pop ballads laid end to end. That’s not to say that these are all slow or sad songs. That’s a common album form and easier to get through. Don’t You songs are specifically in the genus of pop ballad; that realm of mass appeal, but dangerously corny, lovelorn poetry.