How Wet Leg have us longing for teenagehood in the 2000s

By Carmen Bellot 

When noughties nostalgia is infiltrating every facet of popular culture, the success of a song comprising an iconic Mean Girls quote comes as no surprise. The line “Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” features within ‘Chaise Longue’, Wet Leg’s stellar debut single. 

Upon hearing the song for the first time, I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered the epochal film’s best quotes. For myself and millennials globally, this film is a marker of 2000s culture. Flip phones, short hemlines and crop tops, social-media free high-schools are some of many of the icons emblematic of a bygone age. But this line isn’t just thrown in to grab the listeners attention or to appeal to one’s longing for simpler times. It’s one of the many gritty puns that give the song a sour-candy air of coming-of-age silliness. Later on in the song, Wet Leg reworks the quote to expose the theatrics of teenage rebellion:

“Is your mother worried? Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?”

Youthful memories of acting defiantly, all the while remaining childish (to be expected during your teens) flood back, met with a joyful feeling that only hindsight can bring. Oh, and there’s more. The lyric “I got a big D – the latter being an acronym of degree, and referring to their time studying – says it all. Put it against an addictive drum beat with a classic guitar riff and here’s an anthem for the summer. It’s no wonder that Wet Leg has grown exponentially this year, with Chaise Longue racking up 1.7 million views on Youtube since its release this summer. 

Best friends ​​Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers met at music college in their home of the Isle of Wight; a sleepy islet off the southern coast of England. After working separately on their own projects, the duo decided to form a band whilst slightly intoxicated atop a Ferris Wheel, having just watched an IDLES set at End of the Road festival in 2019. It makes sense that such playful music would come from a band whose inception was equally as joy-inducing. ​​“We agreed on the premise of our band there and then: as long as you’re having fun, then everything will be alright,” says singer Teasdale to NME. And when parties, going to bars, dancing the night away at a club – have all been paused on and off over the last year, this is a mindset that we should all be adopting in our everyday lives.

The pair spent lockdown on the Isle of Wight working on their debut single’s music video. Filmed at Chamber’s mother’s house, the project was a DIY affair that required the help of the duo’s family and ornaments from their childhood. Making use of what they had, the video switches between the pair sitting on the porch, to walking down a countryside lane in the golden hour sun, to dancing in a deserted grassy plain. Most noticeably, both Chambers and Teasdale are dressed in 18th-century summer dresses and sun hats, looks that could be found on a cottage-core Pinterest board. It’s easy to make the assumption that the duo’s pastoral upbringing – think hiking paths and farmland, as well as the island’s charming beaches – play a part in the band’s visual identity as well as their musical one.

Having grown up on the other side of the Solent in Hampshire’s countryside, my teenage years consisted of getting drunk in parks, rushing to get the bus that comes once an hour for a night out, and listening to angsty indie music in the privacy of my bedroom. While adolescent experiences around the UK will be nuanced depending on where your native rural area is, the underlying feeling of making the most out of where you are is universal, and it’s something that Wet Leg tapped into with their first single. Having left my village to move to the big city almost ten years ago, I look back on those years with rose-tinted glasses: now that I’m in a concrete jungle, memories of living with nature seem idyllic, despite knowing that during that period of life all I wanted to do was leave. I can’t help but feel like ‘Chaise Longue’ stems from that sentiment. The music video setting makes those in a city lust for the rustic life, and for those who grew up with that, the lyrics bring them back to timestamps in their teenagehood. Mixed with its catchy beat, the songs linger a little longer and resonate a little deeper than one might initially expect from a group quoting Mean Girls.