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Dream Wife blend rage with joy and resilience on Social Lubrication

"Social Lubrication"

Release date: 09 June 2023
Dream Wife - Social Lubrication cover
12 June 2023, 09:00 Written by Kate Crudgington

Fuelled by their trademark antagonistic spirit, Dream Wife’s third album Social Lubrication is a righteous mix of pleasure, anarchy and empowerment.

Born from the desire to shred the structures that oppress marginalized genders in the music industry and beyond, the London-based trio use corrosive riffs, candid lyrics and pop hooks to deliver their most direct statement of self-autonomy yet.

Notably noisier than their second offering, So When You Gonna… - the only indie album recorded and produced by all women to make the Official UK Top 20 album chart back in 2020 – on Social Lubrication, vocalist Rakel Mjöll, guitarist Alice Go and bassist Bella Podpadec continue to go for the patriarchal jugular. From the thudding beats and rolling riffs of opener “Kick In The Teeth” to slower, more sultry offerings like the penultimate “Honestly”, the trio target, tear down, and laugh in the face of adversity.

“I spent so much of this youth / questioning my value / Lolita’s all grown up now…” sings Mjöll, her deceptively sweet, distinctive intonation acting as the perfect vehicle to deliver these realisations. Blending the personal with the political on the eponymous “Social Lubrication”, Mjöll bites back at stale industry sexism – “What’s it like to be a woman in music, dear? / You’d never ask me that if you regarded me as your peer” – paving the way for the trio to incinerate this idiocy in the melodic chorus, all underscored by Go’s caustic riffs and Popadec’s smouldering bass lines.

This isn’t new territory for Dream Wife. Since their inception, the band have been vocal about inequality and have strived to even things out. Dream Wife’s activism and sound truly does cut deeper when it’s live, and their records are an extension of these performances. From their ironic name to their lovingly dubbed fan community of ‘Bad Bitches’, to vehemently promoting underground female and non-binary talent by booking them as support acts on their numerous tours, Dream Wife practice what they preach.

Except, it isn’t preachy at all. It’s fun, it’s chaotic and it’s liberating. From the playful lyrics on the autonomous anthem “Who Do You Wanna Be?” - “Exhausted by the pressure to feel somewhat empowered / it’s only 8am and I haven’t even showered” – to the delightfully lusty “Curious” which features a shout-out to Mjöll’s 85-year-old Grandmother, right up to their tongue-in-cheek, gleeful takedown of egotism and narcissism on “Hot (Don’t Date A Musician)” – Dream Wife’s scathing-yet-sarcastic humour permeates Social Lubrication.

The record’s most striking moment, however, comes in the form of the punk-infused “Leech”. It’s a visceral, righteous condemnation of toxic, complicit behaviour, and an attack on those who hide in plain sight within industry hierarchies. “Just have some fucking empathy” Mjöll repeats, her defiance and desperation more evident each time she delivers the line.

By blending their rage with resilience and joy, Dream Wife have established themselves as a vital force for change both on and off stage. Their dedication to their music, to their fans and to each other is stronger than any of the forces that try to undermine them. On Social Lubrication, they make it crystal clear that they’re not here to “play nice” anymore. As Mjöll succinctly puts it: “I’m not here for the social lubrication / I’m here for the cremation” and you should be too.

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