Dream Wife start a loving riot at Rough Trade East

The wives baptise their third album with a proper punk launch party in London's Old Truman Brewery

Wearing a band t-shirt and not getting asked “name a song then, Love?” feels like a rarity, but everything about Dream Wife feels rarer. In an ode to the recent release of their third album, the British Icelandic indie-punk trio play Social Lubrication in its glorious riotous entirety to a sold-out Rough Trade East.

The crowd know there’s nothing else they would rather be doing in 26-degree weather than wait inside a dimly lit East London institute anticipating the return of Dream Wife.

The Brighton born band, consisting of vocalist Rakel Mjöll, guitarist Alice Go, and bassist Bella Podpadec, take to an intimate stage in a room lit by a mirrorball. But this is no disco. There’s no time for pleasantries as the trio confront the patriarchy head on. “Your womb is a ticking time bomb”, Mjoll sings through smirked lips during the album’s ageism exploring title track. 

As a band who have always addressed sexual politics and inequality so unapologetically, it feels like the crowd have gathered at the church of Dream Wife – ready for a baptism of Social Lubrication and its ooze of wit and social commentary. A true continuation of everything this band stands for.

A sermon for every girl with a fringe and a nose ring comes in the form of the band’s guttural intro to tongue in cheek second single ‘Hot (Don’t Date A Musician)’. Fewer truths have been spoken when Mjoll slows the tempo: “Date a lifeguard or a mathematician, a mad scientist, carpenter, operator, you thought I was gonna say bartender… watch out, they might be a musician”.

All three of the wives have a divine stage presence, clearly excited to get this album out there and hardly coming up for breath once. “This is our favourite album”, Mjoll tells a hushed crowd halfway through, now playing their first record self-produced by Podpadec. The audience is slow to warm up to the new material, perhaps in need of some social lubrication themselves, but it doesn’t dull the wives’ spirits. After the leisurely penultimate track, ‘Honestly’, “4th wife” Alex Paveley introduces the riot-inciting ‘Kick In The Teeth’ via the drums. Mjoll and Podpadec turn to each other and kick the air as the set picks up the band’s raucous punk energy again.

“In our past lives we were lovers”, Mjoll sings, opening the third single ‘Orbit’, the album’s surprising dance rock track about the revival of post-lockdown London. At this point, Mjoll’s neat updo has fallen to her shoulders, and hair flips take the audience straight into the latter half of the album. 

Regaining composure, Mjoll, Go and Podpadec wish the crowd a ‘Happy Pride Month’ and the room of 6Music dads and younger Dream Wife fans roar. “This song is for the bisexual polyamorous freaks. Love who you love, be who you be, just make sure it’s consensual”, Podpadec says as they introduce ‘Curiosity’ – the ultimate questioning bisexual anthem. “She loves you, but she’s curious about her love for me…”. 

“Let’s wrap this album up, shall we?” Mjoll rasps down the microphone before bursting into their most furious recent single, ‘Leech’ – a spiritual follow up to ‘Somebody’ and a sonically eruptive track that everyone in the room puts their lungs into. Ending on Mjoll inciting the crowd to chant “Just having some f*cking empathy!”, it’s an unapologetic and unrelenting statement, but that’s exactly who Dream Wife are.

The wives look elated and almost at peace when they’re on stage together inciting a riot: happy wife, happy life.

Dream Wife play TRNSMT festival in July before their UK headline shows in October. Find Dream Wife tickets here.

Photo credit: Nici Eberl