Last week at the Sinclair, Wet overcame some technical difficulties, revisited hit songs, and introduced their hometown crowd to an expanded musical and emotional range.

5/16/18 – The Sinclair

Wet know how to leave their fans in suspense—three years elapsed between their eponymous EP and 2016’s Don’t You, their criminally underrated major label debut. Now, two and a half years later, they are set to release their sophomore record, Still Run, on July 13. It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point. The trio downsized to a duo in 2017 when guitarist Marty Sulkow left the band for personal reasons, and as a result, the writing and recording process proved difficult. In fact, at one point, the whole project seemed in jeopardy. As lead singer Kelly Zutrau explained to the Fader earlier this year in a candid interview: “A lot of really intense personal stuff happened between me and Joe [Valle, producer and guitarist] over the course of the band, and it really came to a breaking point. There were a lot of questions about our ability to work together, and it came up over and over again.”

The first single they’ve released from the new record, “There’s A Reason”, explicitly addresses the tensions they faced in the recording process and how they reconciled them. Fittingly, Zutrau states, “ It was the first song that we started working on for the album, and it was one of the last we finished. It was an epic one, and it was almost left off the final body of work because we struggled with it so much.”

With this in mind, May 16th’s sold-out show at the Sinclair, the second stop on their pre-release tour, found them in transition, debuting the first few songs off their new album but revisiting fan favorites like “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” and “You’re The Best” throughout the night. Zutrau entered exactly at 9:45, dressed entirely in white, opening their set with “Deadwater”, a sweeping ballad that melts down overwhelming feelings of inadequacy into something small and optimistic. Mantra-like, Zutrau finished each chorus with the refrain, “Shaky but I believe/there are better things for me.” The ultimately hopeful message of the song set the tone for the night, at least in principle. Zutrau was self-admittedly nervous, and the first few songs felt unsteady. “Softly” had to be restarted, then scrapped, and “Lately” experienced, but overcame, a few missed cues. Despite technical difficulties, Wet gained confidence as the night wore on, and slowly but surely, their sound came into focus.

 

Zutrau’s remarkable voice has always been the foundation of the band’s distinct style, which features a balance between an angelic high range and a plaintive, pleading low-end. No matter the context (e.g., her recent collaboration with Rostam), her sound places listeners in a pure, lonely space in which fans relish and critics dismiss as one-note. Their newer material suggests that Wet have more in common with Beach House or Lana Del Rey than, say, Imagine Dragons—they’re capable of real musical growth even if some of the fundamentals remain the same.

For instance, on Wednesday night Wet mostly chose songs that felt more relatable and immediate than the isolated sensations of heartbreak found throughout the songs on their debut. “Lately” addresses an ex directly, introducing the crowd for which Zutrau is singing as a third character (“When they sing along, well that was my song / And I guess no one’s ever told you no, what do you even want this for?”). After hearing the themes of hurt and isolation on their earlier material, their transition from feeling down and passive to motivated and active feels satisfying and encouraging. “Softens” also moves in a positive direction, illuminating and reaching outwards (“Light up your light, you’ll need it most/Light up the light [on] the darkest night”), signifying a new personal and musical chapter.

The production on Don’t You is quiet and relatively static. Reverb-soaked synths and guitars swirled around muffled, slow-mo beats designed to grab and keep the listener in a very specific moment of heartbreak, darkness, and introspection, always moving the spotlight away from the accompaniment and onto Zutrau’s voice. However, these newer songs have more internal motion and interplay between her voice and the band. “Lately” has a guitar solo, and acoustic drums and upright piano chords fortify the song’s optimistic, forward-looking lyrics.

It seems like Wet are moving onto a new chapter while growing in musical confidence as they begin to debut their new direction to fans. Zutrau finished the night with a big smile on her face and profusely thanked the Boston crowd for their support. “Softens” was the band’s last song, opening in their usual hushed style but brightening into a joyous repetition of the chorus, “where beauty softens grief.” As the guitars swelled and the lights brightened, she didn’t have to sing anymore—the sun had finally come out.

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