More about: Dream Wife
A carefree pop world charged with anti-patriarchal attitude
In the great tradition of riot grrrl, Dream Wife are the next rightful heirs. As much an attitude as a musical genre, the trio settle into their sound on sophomore record So When You Gonna….: an LP that inhabits a carefree pop world charged with anti-patriarchal attitude.
Two years on from the release of their eponymous debut and Rakel Mjöll, Bella Podpadec and Alice Go easily show how their blend of punk and pop can mature and flourish into a controlled and contemporary exploration of pop culture, feminine agency and the guitar’s place in pop.
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Title track ‘So When You Gonna....' and lead single ‘Sports!’ are a natural through line from the whiplash of 2018's eponymous debut. Both recall the freneticism of early hits ‘FUU’ and ‘Hey Heartbreaker’, capitalising on the unique, finger-bleeding Go guitar pedigree and cheesy, bitchy asides. ‘So When You Gonna…’ chimes and chirrups, then explodes with adrenaline like a bolt of joyful inspiration from a young band fooling around.
’Sports!’ recalls the high-note caffeine rush of ‘Fire’, adding a clean, futuristic sheen of production courtesy of an all-female team. On both, the knowing asides of Mjoll (“Do you even play this sport?”) serve to place their wave of riot grrrl as part of a Mean Girls generation. Mjoll even dressed as Karen - backwards diamanté ‘K’ and all - for Halloween last year. This playful agency is particularly effective in the title track’s amusing commentary of a first kiss, conflating typically feminine bar gossip with typically masculine sports patter.
Exceptions aside, Dream Wife mainly take it slow on So When You Gonna…. Singles ‘Hasta La Vista’ and ‘Temporary’ dial down the bpm, leading the way for half of the tracks across a near-forty minute playtime. This new penchant for control is at it’s most effective on album closer ‘After The Rain’, which favours keys and a traditional ballad structure for an emotional ode to self-realisation.
‘Temporary’, too, shows a more serious side to a band who have empathy at their heart: a sweet indie riff tracks a delicate and powerful song about miscarriage and the emotions that surround it. The effect is less potent on ‘U Do U’ and ‘Hold On Me’, neither of which use the Dream Wife knack for playfulness to uplift pleasing but thematically weaker tracks.
Through the fast and the slow, Dream Wife carry the burning talisman that has made them so well-loved among the underground and alt-pop scenes alike: an unapologetic sense of femininity. When Mjoll plays on vocal fry and baby-ish emphasis, she is sticking a middle finger up to a patriarchy that sneers at both - ditto on playground chants that evoke the Slits in their glorification of the female and female-identifying experience. By approaching these subjects head on - and wrapping them up in a barbed girlish package - Dream Wife reclaim femininity and the tropes that surround it. It may sound pop, but nothing could be more riot grrrl than that.
So When You Gonna... is released 3 July 2020 via Lucky Number
More about: Dream Wife