Dream Wife are one of the most exciting live prospects in the UK at the moment. The former Brighton University students have been destroying venues up and down the country with their ‘Bad Bitch Club’. Whether they’re creating mental moshpits or turning London’s Scala into a prom from 80s America, they’re unpredictable and exciting. So, the question always was: can they translate that into a studio album? The answer is a definite yes. Dream Wife’s eponymous debut album is a reckless, audacious rollercoaster ride of a record that, so crucially, means something. Whether they’re exploring rape culture, girl power or a celebration of female sexuality, it’s a record that is as intense as it is important, as fun as it is profound and as powerful as it is contained.
Even their name comes from a feminist background. They’ve said in the past “It’s a commentary on the objectification of women; the 1950s American Dream stereotype package. Having the dream house, the dream car and the dream wife. We want to flip the script on that. Women aren’t objects; we don’t just fit into one mould.” Their debut record encapsulates this belief into a vacuum-packed, bite-size potent message. Kicking off the record with ‘Let’s Make Out’, which is a vivid, triumphant ode to female sexuality and sexual consent. This is firmly reinforced with the swift follow up, ‘Somebody’, which is arguably Dream Wife’s most devastating message yet. Essentially a trampling damnation of male privilege and rape culture, it’s the most savage and forceful statement from the trio and the most confident they’ve ever sounded. The repeated “I am not my body, I am somebody” becomes more meaningful and heartfelt every time frontwoman Rakel Mjöll spits her lyrics with passion.
Single ‘Fire’ follows, which continues the upward trajectory of danger. It’s a hefty, more dangerous and vastly more self-assured effort from the band as musicians. ‘Fire’ demonstrates the exchange and allure between the three-piece on their best form. Featuring sophisticated guitar riffs, and a chorus that bursts and burns like a firework, ‘Fire’ is certainly an apt title. It’s a confident opening to an album and a display of confidence from Dream Wife to open with their singles. ‘Hey Heartbreaker’, the first ever single released by the trio, follows ‘Fire’. Glossier since its original release, this gritty and fierce song is still admirable in its bluntness. With memorable guitar lines and an immensely catchy “Hey Hey Hey” chorus, it’s clear that this track is playing homage to the like of Bikini Kill and Bratmobile of the Riot Grrrl movement.
It’s not all punk from Dream Wife, either. Throughout the second half of the album, there’s an experimentation with the pop hook. In ‘Act My Age’ the opening is reminiscent of adolescent pop credentials of early Madonna, while ‘Love Without Reason’ explores the bursts of bubblegum pop harmonies with the charming loved up lyrics of a chart pop hit. There’s a refreshing juvenility to Dream Wife at times. They don’t always take themselves, or anything else for that matter, too seriously.
People say that first impressions are the most important, but clearly with ‘F.U.U.’ Dream Wife have indeed saved the best until last. Initially, this was a song released back in 2016, that made me first realise that the trio can be a legitimately biting musical prospect. It’s a bloodthirsty, cut-throat ending to the album that throughout hasn’t pulled any punches, and has gone straight for the jugular. Dream Wife are a ferocious, vicious band that do what they want, when they want – and it’s this aesthetic that makes Dream Wife such a fierce proposition. Originally starting out as an art project of a “fake girl band”, it’s been wonderful to see Dream Wife explore, develop and cavort with the reverie of the female representation and idea of the pop icon. Fundamentally, Dream Wife is a record that’s been written with a lot of care, and performed with a dangerous amount of enthusiasm.