The only name I can find associated with the project is “Chet Pleather” (how mysterious…), but from their pastel-pink band photos I gather that Wet Leather is a 5-piece anxiety pop project currently based in NYC. The “Past Lives EP” is Wet Leather’s debut (aside from the single “Secret Preference” released in May of this year), and it’s full of falsetto-sung catchy hooks and retro instrumental textures. The first words of the EP (“this isn’t just lite rock”) suggest that we’re in for something more than your average radio-music bonanza, but somehow I don’t think that traditionalist labels bring down this music in any way. Before anything else, this is lyric pop performed with keys and guitar, with bits and pieces from 60s/80s/00s pop jumping in and out of the mix at their leisure. “Anxiety pop” labels the feel well but still gives the music a lot of breathing room with regard to classification, so props for that one.
“Secret Preference” stands out as one of the best moments of the EP, combining a sort of slow burn feel (a drippy bass tone pops in and out every few beats, almost lazily so) with driving synth and guitar licks falling into place in hard left/right panned assortments. The lyrics are definitely applicable to a wide public (“don’t be ashamed of your secret preference, it’s mine too”), but I suppose one is left wishing that they were at least a little more specific or descriptive; most of the lyrics on the entire EP, actually, could be boiled down to conversations between two lovers. It would be cool to get some imagery instead of dialogue, I suppose – when listening to Porches, for example, we get the image of teenage lovers lying under a grand piano. There’s definitely an aesthetic being hashed out in Wet Leather, but I think the listener is left connecting the dots a little too much (between the name “Wet Leather” itself, the lyrical ‘conversation,’ and the feels evoked by the songs themselves). Still, it’s an undeniably catchy grouping of songs – I chose to discuss “Secret Preference” as a sort of embodiment of the rest of the album because I like that song in particular, but the beginning of “Astral Projection” (the first track) has an irresistable beat and piano hook, “Stop Me If I’m Doing It Wrong” is a great progressive synth jam, and so on. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more anxious musings from Wet Leather in the future – perhaps painting with bolder strokes next time, too!
You can download the Past Lives EP on Wet Leather’s bandcamp, and they’ve got a bunch of upcoming shows in NYC (@ Pianos, the Knitting Factory).