Dream Wife return this week with their third studio album, Social Lubrication. In their own words, the album is “Hyper lusty rock and roll with a political punch, exploring the alchemy of attraction, the lust for life”. Social Lubrication is written and produced entirely by the band and, as expected, the record is distilled Dream Wife at their brilliant best.
Lyrical themes that explore tiresome music industry standards, patriarchal practices, sexual liberation and love make for fantastic listening. Frontwoman Rakel Mjöll has a unique delivery: the way she spits, snarls and screams the words at times is nothing short of brilliant, and it combines with the punk instrumentation from the rest of the band to create unstoppable tracks which go hard as fuck. The album’s titular track is a floor-filler. Pop-punky and frantic, the grunge riffs dual with bouncing drums to actualise a song that is relentlessly catchy.
‘Mascara’ is a great ballad, featuring fuzzy, Nirvana-esque chords and gorgeous harmonic backing vocals. Dream Wife are really hitting their stride with this record, perfecting the slow, sensitive lighters-in-the-air moments alongside loud, abrasive highs. One of these highs arrives with album highlight ‘Leech’; a cut which builds slowly, as Mjöll repeats the refrain “just have some fucking empathy”, before exploding into a screamed chorus. Mjöll is speaking – whispering, even – in the verses before the wider band brings the noise hard for a chorus. It’s a pop-punk take on Pixies style quiet-loud, pulled off in supreme style by Dream Wife.
‘Curious’ is another high point, and sees Dream Wife slipping into a more indie rock inspired number, which they wear well. The track is a defiant anthem of sexual liberation and is exactly the kind of song to send sweltering big top tents into raptures at festivals this summer; a feat Dream Wife achieve year in, year out. The lyric “you’ll all be middle-aged men one day, and I’ll be a middle-aged dream wife” is irresistibly typical of the trio and we are happy to die on our hill stating that bands singing their own name in songs is a flourish that isn’t seen nearly enough.
Overall this is a stunner of an album – anthemic, coarse and confrontational at times, but sensitive, curious and passionate at others. Social Lubrication is a fantastic cross-section of Dream Wife, exploring their best qualities and building on their sound.