Deriving their name as a commentary on society’s objectification of women, the London-based punk rock trio and JOVM mainstays Dream Wife — Icelandic-born, London-based Rakel Mjöll (vocals), Alice Go (guitar, vocals) and Bella Podapec (bass, vocals) — can trace their origins to when the trio met and started the band back in 2015 as part of an art project conceptualized around the idea of a band born out of one girl’s memories of growing up in Canada during the 1990s.
2018 saw the band release their self-titled, full-length debut to critical acclaim. And as a result, the band built up a profile as a must-see live act, playing at SXSW, opening for Garbage, The Kills and Sleigh Bells, which they followed up with sold-out headlining tours across the European Union and the US — including a stop at Rough Trade with New York-based genre-defying artist Sabri. Adding to a growing profile, the band had their music appear in the Netflix hit series Orange is The New Black. But at the core of all of that is the trio’s mission to lift up other womxn and non-binary creatives with empowering messages and a “girls to the front” ethos.
Slated for a July 3, 2020 release through Lucky Number Music, the London-based trio’s Marta Salogni-produced So When You Gonna . . . may arguably be the most urgent and direct call to the action of the rising act’s growing catalog. Thematically touching upon some of the most important and sobering themes of our sociopolitical moment including abortion, miscarriage and gender equality, the album is centered by “it’s a now or never” immediacy in which the listener is encouraged to stop waiting, get off your ass and start doing something. The album’s title also plays on its central idea. “It’s an invitation, a challenge, a call to action,” the band’s Rakel Mjöll says in press notes.
After playing roughly 200 shows during the course of 2018, the band didn’t bother to sit still and they turned to playing sports while writing the material that would eventually comprise their forthcoming sophomore album. “Sports!” the album’s bombastic, tongue-in-cheek first single featured explosive blasts of angular guitar, four-on-the-floor drumming, rapid-fire tempo shifts, shimmering synth arpeggios, enormous arena rock friendly hooks and winking vocal asides reminiscent of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!and Freedom of Thought-era DEVO, Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Entertainment-era Gang of Four with an exuberant, zero fucks given air.
So When You Gonna . . . ‘s second and latest single “Hasta La Vista” is a mid-tempo track centered around four-on-the-floor drumming, shimmering and angular guitar chords, an infectious hook and Mjöll’s unique vocal delivery, which balances a girlish coquettishness with an aching and longing nostalgia for the friends and family they were away from while on the road, the small comforts of home that you’d miss while being on the road. But there’s also the acknowledgement of the tight, familial bond that they’ve developed with each other through their shared experiences of life on the road, and the aspects of their lives that have changed as a result of their lives as professional musicians. Much like a great deal of the material I’ve written about recently, “Hasta La Vista” reveals prescient parallels to our contemporary life: trapped in various forms of indefinite isolation, we can’t get the things we miss — and may never get them again. And we have to accept the changes within our lives, including the ones that may have permanent and long-lasting negative effects.
“Hasta is one of the first songs we wrote after we completed our touring cycle for our debut album. We’d played over 200 shows in 18 months and had returned to London to discover that things around us had changed and so had we,” the band says in press notes. “Close relationships fell apart and others came together. This song is about accepting and embracing that change and being thankful to what that was and what it is today.”
The band adds, “Being on tour has some similarities to living under quarantine — the separation from loved ones, the submission to the process, the large amounts of time in contained spaces with the same group of people. We built this band around relentless touring and the celebration and love of the live show and the community that it creates. And we’re very much looking forward to experiencing that again, when the time is right.”
Edited by the band’s Rakel Mjöll, the recently released video for “Hasta La Vista” is centered around home video footage of the members of Dream Wife as adorable, small children — shot by their families. The video further emphasizes the song’s longing and wistful nostalgia. In this case for a far simpler, seemingly less uncertain time — and for several people, who may no longer be with them.