In a week of Harvey Weinstein filth and #metoo fortification, there remains something apt and overwhelming about watching the diminutive Rakel Mjöll perched atop her monitor furiously barking “I am not my body/I am somebody” at an appreciative crowd who only finished Evensong an hour or so earlier. Back in the halcyon days of early January, our highly esteemed Editor thrust Dream Wife forward as ones to watch in our ‘Sound of 2017‘ crystal ball exercise, so now it’s my opportunity to discover whether he’s a bona fide visionary genius or needs his ears syringing.
Visually, Dream Wife are an unconventional mix. If Mjöll is all Icelandic smiles and rock poses then Alice Go and Bella Podpadec come across as no-nonsense enforcers who are likely to tear me a new one if I even thought for a moment about glancing at the top shelf in my local newsagents. Add into the mix a drummer with a mop of curly hair which would gift him a part in any future Hair Bear Bunch movie and I’m left to rue the fact The Corrs never looked or sounded this great.
But you know what? The fact they are already having to having to justify their tag as the great white hope for feminism and compared to everyone from Kathleen Hanna to Bikini Kill and back through Sleater-Kinney does them an enormous disservice. They may have started out life as an art project but Dream Wife have morphed into a hugely gratifying rock n roll outfit with hooks, licks and more strident power than Storm Ophelia. Lyrically, they may be barbed and acerbic at times but the message is delivered like an anvil inside a velvet glove given the engaging presence of Mjöll who bounces around like Zebedee after too many e-numbers.
Aside from the aforementioned ‘Somebody’ there is an outing for new single ‘Fire’ and the rasping, guttural run through of crowd favourite ‘FUU’ which you really don’t need me to decipher for you. Yes, there is anger aplenty in their songs but the joie de vivre is evident; it’s almost as if they can’t quite believe they are getting away with it. There is even time for the band to premier a new song, never previously tried live, such is the confidence coursing through their veins at present. Dream Wife maybe strangers in a strange land (Leicester is over 150 miles from their home town of Brighton) but the fact it is a Sunday evening and most of us have work in the morning clearly hasn’t registered with either the band or the audience; this is 40 minutes of flat-out, tonsil-shredding, head-shaking and ball-chopping indie rock from a band that knows precisely where your musical jugular is located and isn’t afraid to stamp all over it.
The band sprint off stage and upstairs to their merch table in order to mingle and spread the Dream Wife gospel to yet another city. Their enthusiasm is as infectious as the chorus to ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ and seemingly as unstoppable. In a week where the political boundaries between men and women have never felt so contradictory, Dream Wife are here to remind us all to behave…or else. Feminists or just a great indie rock band? Actually, you are allowed to be both…and they are. It turns out that our Editor knows a thing or too after all.