As festival lineups are revealed, a recurring pattern is evident – most of the bands and artists listed are men. Women and female-fronted bands make up less than half – or in some cases only a quarter – of the revealed performers. It’s a surprising development not only because we are currently experiencing one of the great social revolutions of the past forty years but also because women are making the most exhilarating, refreshing, and challenging music today. That is the case with Dream Wife, the London-based trio aren’t anywhere to found on the posters of Coachella, Boston Calling, Governors Ball, or any other major festival in North America. Heck, they’re only playing a couple fests in Europe, and this is a major oversight. Once festival organizers check out one of their gigs or hear their self-titled debut album, they’ll be regretting it.
Like a mix of Kim Gordon, The Divinyls, and early U2 (when the foursome were known as four punks from Dublin), Dream Wife is a riot. The album is full of youthful exuberance that makes the listener feel s/he is experiencing a live performance through the headphones. Dream Wife, however, are more than just about catchy riffs and dance- and mosh pit-inciting melodies. They are tackling the status quo, particularly what it means to be a woman in today’s still male-dominated world. And this is what makes Dream Wife the band and album special – three women that are tearing away the bars and shattering the glass ceiling while carving out a place for them and other all-women bands in today’s rock and punk scenes.
The song that best exemplifies Dream Wife’s talent is “Somebody”. The post-punk vibes are right out of the ’70s, and the lyrics could have been taken out of Kim Gordon’s song book. Front woman Rakel Mjöll’s opening lines are hard-hitting:
You were a cute girl standing back stage. It was bound to happen.
You had a smile across your face. It was bound to happen.
Then later, she proclaims: “I am not my body. I am somebody.” In these three lines, she brilliantly captures how women are objectified, how sexual violence is often treated with a shrug of the shoulders, and how far we have to go as a society when it comes to gender and human rights. This is an anthem that should be played every day. It is a song that perfectly reflects today’s world.
The trio take a different tack with the infectious and insanely brilliant duo, “Hey Heartbreaker” and “Let’s Make Out”. As Alice Go’s piercing guitar fills the air on the former, Mjöll delivers a big fuck you to all the playboys and manipulators. The boisterous “Let’s Make Out”, which opens the album, shouldn’t be mistaken as a seductive track. Instead, it discusses how women can take control and lead.
Dream Wife, though, is also an album for anybody and everyone who has been left on the sidelines. The punk-pop scorcher “Fire” is a call-to-arms among friends and outsiders. Mjöll hollers a slogan that should be in every yearbook, “We danced, and we screamed, and we held each other tight.” The fearless “Act My Age” is another anthem for a younger generation wishing to be heard and understood. “Do I amuse you? Do I confuse you?”, Mjöll asserts to the eyes that peer down on her from above.
There are moments where the trio let their guard down and reveal what their hearts desire. The shimmering “Spend The Night” and “Love Without Reason” are the best examples of this. Although these songs will be embraced by younger audiences, Dream Wife are at their best when they wave the “us-against-the-world” flag, such as on the groovy, dance-pop number, “Kids”. Comparisons to Chrissy Amphlett and The Divinyls are unmistakable on this track. And like them, Dream Wife take us on a little adventure that only the best of friends could experience. Then there is “F.U.U.”, which is a raw, edgy, and gritty indie-punk-rock number that has the ladies obliterating all stereotypes. Forget the niceties because, with the support of Fever Dream, they have one goal, which is described as follows:
“Whilst I fuck you up, gonna cut you up, gonna fuck you up,
And then I’m gonna fuck you up, gonna cut you up, gonna fuck you up.”
For thirty-five minutes, they do exactly that, fuck us up. And it’s awesome. The record is a fast, furious, and exhilarating ride, but more importantly Dream Wife are destroying any notion that women cannot rock. Eventually, the old men who curate the major festivals will believe that an all-women rock band can be the headliners and rock the brains out of tens of thousands of concertgoers. Well, Rakel Mjöll (lead vocals), Alice Go (guitar/vocals), and Bella Podpadec (bass/vocals) are already selling out shows across Europe. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the music world recognizes Dream Wife as game changers. They are, in other words, this generation’s The Runaways.
Dream Wife is available via Lucky Number Music. Album bundles are available here while streaming/download options can be found over here. Alternatively, support the trio directly by buying the album on Bandcamp.
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