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Album review: So When You Gonna… by Dream Wife

Written by Album reviews, Music

Released on July 3rd, So When You Gonna… is a searching compilation of modern riot-grrrl-esque bangers, and the sound of a trio working perfectly and decidedly as a team.

“Fuck sorry fuck please”: from its first note to its last, Dream Wife’s unapologetic sophomore album deepens the jagged punk of their debut, building on confident production with mellow poetics. Singer Rakel Mjöll’s vocals are dripping with a unique self-assuredness throughout, carrying idiosyncratic rhythms that never end up where you expect. The lyrical content mixes sweet-voiced sarcasm, screamed demands (“put your money where your mouth is!”), and at times heart-breaking sadness, in mid-album tracks such as ‘Temporary’ that deals with a miscarriage. Alice Go’s bright, spiky guitar lines glide playfully around the vocal melodies, while bassist Bella Podpadec adds a driving, danceable funk.

The band have talked extensively about the importance of producer Marta Salogni on this record, and it’s clear to see why. Just as the album art is in high-contrast black and white, a mixture of darkest shadows and bright highlights, so are the emotional highs and lows of the record. Salogni has mixed the screaming and heaviness to sound angrier and fiercer, and the mellow sweetness softer, creating sonic variety throughout that is consistently surprising and inventive.

With live shows such an integral part of Dream Wife’s existence, stemming from their origins as a uni performance art project, lockdown has inevitably thwarted touring plans for the time being. But with any luck next year, the joyous safety and freedom that comes with mosh pits free from creepy cis men will be back, and the energy of lead singles ‘Sports!’ and ‘So When You Gonna…’ will no doubt incite a similar ferocity live to their classic ankle-sprainer/bruise-giver ‘FUU’.

The community of fans and creatives around the London-based band has extended to a DIY podcast series, exploring different aspects of the music and creative industries through interviews with a member of Dream Wife and a female or non-binary artist. Though many musicians have co-opted DIY-feminist/queer politics on the surface for aesthetics or ‘woke points’, despite their increasing commercial success Dream Wife seem to remain genuinely invested in empowerment, whether through inviting local punk bands on tour, their all-female album team, or their powerful anti-sexual assault anthems.

So When You Gonna…’s message, carried through powerful and joyful songwriting, is clear: do what you want, and don’t let anyone stop you.

4/5

Last modified: 4th August 2020

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