London-based punk outfit and JOVM mainstays Dream Wife — Rakel Mjöll (vocals) (she/her), Alice Go (guitar, vocals) (she/her) and Bella Podapec (bass, vocals) (they/them) — will be releasing their highly anticipated and long-awaited third album Social Lubrication through Lucky Number on June 9, 2023.
Throughout their career, the trio has been remarkably adept at merging the political and the playful, and Social Lubrication further cements that reputation. Forceful, vital statements are hidden within hot and heavy dance floor friendly anthems about making out, having fun and staying curious. In the JOVM mainstay act’s words, the album is: “Hyper lusty rock and roll with a political punch, exploring the alchemy of attraction, the lust for life, embracing community and calling out the patriarchy. With a healthy dose of playfulness and fun thrown in.”
There is a sense of fun and openness that is central to Social Lubrication, as well. “There’s a lot of lust in this album and taking the piss out of yourself and everyone you know,” Rakel Mjöll says. “It’s almost quite juvenile in that way.”
“The album is speaking to systemic problems that cannot be glossed over by lube,” Dream Wife’s Bella Podpadec says. “The things named in the songs are symptoms of f-ed up structures. And you can’t fix that. You need to pull it apart.”
Perhaps more than ever, the live show is at the core of the album and its material. “The live show is the truth of the band,” Alice Go says. “That’s at the heart of what we do and of the statements we’re making.” For the members of Dream Wife — and of any band, really — the live show is where the band and fans can come together in a shared moment of community. And to that end, the album is a celebration of community and a big ol’ middle finger to the social barriers that are enforced to sever connection, playfulness, curiosity and sexual empowerment. “Music is one of the only forms of people experiencing an emotion together in a visceral, physical, real way,” says Go. “It’s cathartic to the systemic issues that are being called out across the board in the record. Music isn’t the cure, but it’s the remedy. That’s what Social Lubrication is: the positive glue that can create solidarity and community.”
An energetic, pedal-to-the-metal sound explodes through the album’s material. And you can hear it the loud, dirty riffs and shout-along worthy choruses specifically crafted for shaking asses, bouncing around and yelling joyously in shared spaces with friends and strangers. For the band’s Go, who produced the album, it was important to capture and bottle that joyful, frenetic feeling the band’s members all felt. “We wanted to get that rawness and energy across in a way that hadn’t been done before,” she says.
In the lead-up to Social Lubrication‘s release next month, I’ve written about three of the album’s released singles to date:
“Leech,” an urgent, post-punk inspired ripper that saw the band’s Mjöll alternating between spoken-word-like delivery for the song’s verses and feral shouting for the song’s choruses. Mjöll’s vocal delivery is paired with an alternating song structure that features looping and wiry guitar bursts for the song’s verses and explosive, power chord-driven riffage for the song’s choruses. The song is a tense, uneasy and forceful, mosh pit friendly anthem for our uncertain, fucked up time, that addresses the inherent double standards of power — while urgently calling for more empathy.”
“It’s an anthem for empathy. For solidarity,” the JOVM mainstays explain. “Musically tense and withheld, erupting to angry cathartic crescendos. The push and pull of the song lyrically and musically expands and contracts, stating and calling out the double standards of power. Nobody really wins in a patriarchal society. We all lose. We could all use more empathy. As our first song to be released in a while, we wanted to write something that feels like letting an animal out of a cage. It’s out. And it’s out for blood…”
“Hot (Don’t Date A Musician),” a Gang of Four-like, tongue-in-cheek ripper inspired by Mjöll’s grandmother’s sage advice — despite the fact that she herself, dated many musicians in her day — while wryly poking fun at musicians and the music adjacent, the band included. “Dating musicians is a nightmare,” Mjöll explains. “Evoking imagery of late night make-outs with fuckboy/girl/ambiguously-gendered musicians on their mattress after being seduced by song-writing chat. The roles being equally reversed. Having a laugh together and being able to poke fun at ourselves is very much at the heart of this band. This song encapsulates our shared sense of humour. Sonically it is the lovechild of CSS and Motorhead. It has our hard, live, rock edge combined with cheeky and playful vocals.”
“Orbit,” a dance punk ripper. built around a a propulsive disco-inspired post punk rhythm, bursts of wiry guitars paired with enormous hooks and Mjöll’s sultry rock goddess-like delivery that recalls Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Echoes-era The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem among others. Much like its predecessor, the song is fun and rooted in a sense of youthful adventure and possibility.
“Written through the joy of jamming together and locking into the groove like a multi limbed space age organism, ‘Orbit’ has a dance rock edge from the early noughties of bands like New Young Pony Club and Yeah Yeah Yeahs,” the band explains. “Lyrically, it was inspired by post-lockdown London coming back to life and sharing a space through friendship and community. And how each day you never know what’s in store for you or how a stranger can become someone close to you – for a day, a heartbeat, a phase, or a lifetime.”
The album’s fourth and latest single “Who Do You Wanna Be” continues a remarkable run of scuzzy post punk rippers built around slashing power chords, relentless four-on-the-floor and rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy choruses paired with Mjöll’s delivery, which sees her alternating between flirty and bitterly sarcastic within a turn of a phrase. The song sees the band taking on capitalism and faux-activism — with a lived-in annoyance and bemusement. As they explain, the song is “about running on the capitalist treadmill and falling face first on the pavement. Hollow slogans, social media activism without action, leftist infighting, monetising feminism, ‘girl boss,’ all soul crushing nonsense. Capitalism consumes everything. We should tear down the unreachable, anxiety filled idea of perfectionism, and move from hyper individualised narrative to collective action to create hopeful, rebellious, collective, systems of care. This is a call to arms for change.
The accompanying stylishly shot video features the band performing the song in an abandoned leisure center pool in East London, and captures the frenetic energy of their live show.