Kelly Zutrau is an artist who refuses to dismiss her own emotions. Positioning itself as more than a naïve girl-meets-boy record, Don’t You plays out much like an open letter that celebrates and breathes in the vulnerable. Dangerously wholehearted and malleable, Wet refuses to flinch against reaffirming these feelings and at times, struggles to contain these thoughts. Dipping between openness and predictability, each one of the 11 tracks depend on the charms of minimalist R&B, tactfully blending each scant beat and electronic key into one, reflective and clean studio production.
‘It’s All In Vain’ is the first warning call of Zutrau’s power of seduction both lyrically and sonically. Vocalising out into a beige-tinted abyss, “Tell me baby, tell me slowly all the things you couldn’t show me” is a hallmark for the record’s theme and, unfortunately, is the hook, line and sinker for much of the emotional friction of the release. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. ‘Deadwater’ is a twofold single that solidifies the power and lifeblood of Wet. Blatantly episodic, the track dribbles cooled guitar riffs like liquid as each chord is carefully timed and divvied between multi-instrumentalists Joe Valle and Marty Sulkow. Echoing against Zutrau’s searching hypnotism, you can hear the crystal barrier that cuts each member so precisely; ‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl’ becoming the secret and confession of the band itself, as Wet aren’t only making pop music – they’re making it isolated.
This loneliness is a core and crippling element for the entirety of Don’t You. As Sulkow continues to dabble riffs and Valle ponders keys, the sensations of ‘Weak’ and ‘Island’ become flustered and bed-ridden; slowly lulling the listener into a deeper and distant state of anguish. This can be heard before the honeyed moments of ‘Islands’, where nimble and bright piano arrangements evoke a luminous (and thankfully, surprising) shift in mood. Falling back on her own indecisions, Zutrau once again pushes her energy to the forefront and foregrounds her vocal ability, feeling herself “closing up”. With electronic flourishes and playful pauses, ‘All The Ways’ is the first indication of a light-hearted but conflicted step towards a resolution, as she notes with unwavering certainty and a faster tempo; “when I’m here take all of it, ‘cause when we’re done there’s nothing left.”
From ‘Small and Silver’ to ‘Move Me’, Zutrau continues to build-up her self-conscious declarations as each track recycles protracted chords and safe-sounding climaxes. ‘You’re The Best’ and ‘Body’ showcases the cream of these repetitions where others falter, with each reiterated chorus, electronic blip and downbeat holding conflict and amalgamating Wet’s deeply human experience and expectation – “now I have you here to hold me, make me forget I have a body.” Taking a step backwards from their aesthetic checklist, ‘These Days’ is the final and most lonely chapter of Don’t You. Softly resting upon a meandering piano melody, the track is stripped bare; loudly yearning and gasping for a better, more believable revelation in Zutrau’s words.
“Today, I scare so easily,” Zatrau calls out in the final moments of the record, shouldering any doubt that listeners hadn’t already recognised this detail in the last 10 preceding tracks as she leans on breaking point. Through this final sigh, Don’t You suddenly shivers – naked, exposed and without a flush of embarrassment as it resonates with precise control and poise. Neither half-empty or half-full in the battlefront of processed pop and heartbreak, Wet stand waist-deep in their own “deadwater“; a finale that leaves them embracing submission against a bigger, deeper and far more uncharted potential.
Don’t You is out now via Columbia Records/Sony Music.