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Album Review: Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…

Release Date: July 3rd, 2020

UK rockers Dream Wife aren’t afraid to loudly take a stance and use their platform to empower oppressed voices. As their 2018 self-titled debut showed, they don’t shy away from taboo topics. Instead, they unapologetically address issues regarding sexual politics, gender equality, and sexism with furious energy. They’re outspoken, fearless nature returns on their ambitious follow-up So When You Gonna…

As the album title hints, So When You Gonna… centers around a just do it vibe. There’s an urgency to make your voice heard, to be outspoken, to not sit back and wait for things to happen that runs throughout the songs. Whether it’s the urgency to express your desires, like on the adrenaline-pumping title track, or hooking up with a former lover on the poppy “Old Flame,” the songs are a call to arms to get up and take control of your life instead of waiting for something to happen.

There’s also a refreshing honesty to the songs. The band remains fierce as they tackle the messy, tricky parts of life. “Hold On” is about falling for someone already in a relationship and “Validation” hits upon a universal insecurity asking “validation, why does it mean so much to me?” And despite its bright sound, “Temporary” explores the emotional trauma of miscarriage. The songs are confessional as if ripped from a journal. These private or complicated moments are put out into the open and rather than make a judgment, we’re asked to sit in the moment and observe what’s happening. They offer genuine glimpses at life’s complications we don’t often talk about.

The album also sees Dream Wife expanding their sound. Their furious punk rock drive is still intact on songs like the playful “Sports!” or the raucous “Homesick” but others show a sonic shift. “Hasta La Vista” and “Right Here Right Now” bring out their pop sensibility with tight melodies, catchy hooks, and bouncy music. They make you want to dance instead of mosh. And unlike their previous effort, they step back and slow things down with ballads, like the gentle “U Do U.” It’s during these moments singer Rakel Mjöll shows her vocal range opting to croon rather than yell.

The most powerful ballad is album closer “After the Rain.” The quiet track brings us into this vulnerable moment of someone getting an abortion. It explores the pain, anger, and guilt that follows, looking for some understanding. As we get to the chorus, we move away from the personal and see the issue on a wider scale when Mjöll sings “it’s my choice, my right/my will, my sacrifice/it’s my body, my right/not for others to decide.” It’s a raw and heartbreaking moment on the album that’s not afraid to take a stance. The message isn’t hidden behind pretty metaphors or vague hints. It’s in your face and hard to ignore much like the band themselves.

So When You Gonna… takes the fire and fury of Dream Wife’s debut and expands on it. Their punk rock ethos is fully intact, but they don’t copy and paste what they’ve done before. Instead, they explore new territory in their writing and sound. The diverse mix of high energy anthems and gut-wrenching ballads keeps the album fresh and exciting. There’s never a point where the album drags or falls flat. Dream Wife’s uncompromising statements on abortion rights, miscarriage, and gender equality bring conversations we should be having out in the open. They’re not ignoring what’s going on. They tackle it directly with a ferocious drive and blistering honesty that’s make you sit up and listen. And that’s exactly how it should be.

Make sure to check out our recent interview with Dream Wife here.

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Dream Wife - So When You Gonna...
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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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