Don't You


Columbia, 2016

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


If I could sum up my reaction to this disc, the debut full-length from Brooklyn trio Wet, in one word, it would be: conflicted. About a year ago, I reviewed their first EP with effusive praise, struck by the beauty and vulnerability showcased in their particular brand of indie pop. Each song felt like an intricate gem, containing multitudes.

And yet, blown up to an entire album’s length, something has gone missing. But I still can’t stop playing Don’t You – hence the conflict! You see, what Kelly Zutrau (vocals), Martin Suklow (guitar), and Joe Valle (drums) have created is a lovely, listenable, but ultimately frustrating batch of songs that never quite reach the anticipated highs. Part of this comes from the lyrical scope, which traverses love in all its many forms but never manages to be very specific about any of them. Where the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Wet EP was clear in its message – how to break free from a dissatisfying yet familiar love – Don’t You is all over the place. There are yearning pleas to a distant lover (“Weak,” “Island”), resigned declarations to starting anew (“Deadwater,” “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl”), and repeated statements about the loneliness of other people (“Body,” “You’re The Best”).

It all weaves together in a way that feels wispy and insubstantial, obscuring the potency of the stronger tracks here. And there are some excellent moments. The aforementioned “Deadwater” is well-paced, Zutrau’s angelic voice slowly unspooling amid gentle flickers of piano and guitar as the trio details the painful inevitability of a stagnant relationship. Meanwhile, “All The Ways” and “You’re The Best” are the most upbeat moments here, injecting some energy into the sometimes placid atmosphere of mid-tempo love ballads. And “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl,” a holdover from the EP, is consistently gorgeous, soaring and bittersweet (“I don’t wanna be your girl no more / Just wanna see your face at home,” Zutrau sings, capturing the pull between comfort and breaking free of a relationship that’s just not-quite right).

For each high point, there is a corresponding moment where this disc just doesn’t get off the ground. Some of the cuts are a bit too overproduced, washing over Zutrau’s vocals with Auto-Tune and stifling the emotiveness and airy looseness on Wet. Meanwhile, Don’t You also has the dubious honor of hosting two of the most cringe-worthy lyrics I’ve heard in awhile: “Put me in a clown car / Take me for a drive” (Small And Silver”) and “New York feels like an island” on “Island,” the only track I consistently skip here. 

Overall, Don’t You is an album that feels like it’s plateaued, reaching a middle point and never managing to soar over that crest. There are individual tracks that reach points of tenderness and catharsis, but they never coalesce into the whole that I expected given the promise of the trio’s debut EP.

Rating: C+

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