Back in 2018, London trio Dream Wife released their debut collection of songs pulling equally from the playful rage of Le Tigre and the misanthropic noisiness of Garbage, setting in motion a whirlwind of events that would soon find them becoming an in-demand opening act playing alongside iconic artists including, you guessed it, Le Tigre and Garbage. Two albums later, their recorded material and live show have only served to improve each other, with their latest record Social Lubrication proving the best distillation of their chaotic stage presence which, simultaneously, is at its best as longtime friends Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go, and Bella Podpadec have also become longtime collaborators.
Between the joky fury of “Hot (Don’t Date a Musician)” and the more earnest—and scathing—cautionary tale “Leech,” Social Lubrication sees the trio fully locked into the sound they’ve been developing that’s indistinguishably fit for dancing or fighting the system—any system. With elements of riot grrrl and post-punk deeply embedded in their unique sound, it’s no surprise that Be Your Own Pet, Peaches, PJ Harvey, and The B-52’s are among the artists the group looked to for inspiration on this latest release.
For the full story on those influences and more, Rakel Mjöll and Alice Go teamed up on a playlist that accurately represents Social Lubrication’s sound based on 10 tracks the band connected over leading up to its recording. Before the album arrives this Friday via Lucky Number, pre-order it here and find their playlist below.
Le Tigre, “Deceptacon”
The first three seconds of this song feels like an adrenaline boost and makes me wanna jump up, run fast, and smile deliriously. I heard it first when I borrowed my sister’s old iPod to ease the long walks to school when I was 12 or 13, and it changed my world. Living in Iceland at the time, let’s just say it got me through many blizzards and dreary walks that were made bearable by punching my fist into the sky and screaming the words to the wind. Meeting Alice and Bella at art school in Brighton, we bonded over our love for Le Tigre, and their influence has cemented itself in our songwriting. And we got to support them on their first London show in 18 years! So…full circle moment here.
PJ Harvey, “Rid of Me”
For our song “Leech” we had the lyrics down, but weren’t sure how we wanted the song to sound like. As it happens we were all unknowingly listening to this album (separately) and cleaning our flats on a Sunday and just talking about what a brilliant album it is in the group chat. And this was the sound world we wanted for “Leech”—mixing hushed, laid back verses with a wall-of-sound chorus. A song that makes you turn it up on the radio in your car because you can’t hear it properly at the start, but then when the chorus kicks in you jump out of your seat and all the traffic surrounding you can hear what you’re listening to. Utterly brilliant.
CSS are another band me, Alice, and Bella bonded over during our uni years, having been part of shaping our music taste in our early teens. This song is so playful, laid back yet urgent, simple yet complicated, driven, dancy, and sassy. After we wrote the song “Orbit” we listened back to it and thought of “Alala”’s influence in choruses—that playful sass.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Modern Romance”
The restraint of the guitar and vocals and how they have their own language that flows through this terrain they’ve created in this song is a masterpiece. It has that similar guitar sound to “Pale Blue Eyes” by Lou Reed. The emotion you feel deeply in Karen O’s voice, it’s like jumping between being hopeful, caring deeply, and then not caring at all. How many of our songs are structured is very much like two lead vocalists weaving melodies around each other—the guitar being a lead vocalist. Yeah Yeahs Yeahs have really solidified that kind of structure.
Julia Jacklin, “Body”
“Body” is from Julia Jacklin's album that came out in 2019, however I’m utterly obsessed with Julia’s new album Pre Pleasure. The cutthroat lyrics on that one—wow, an incredible lyricist. I hadn't heard it yet when we were writing Social Lubrication, but I did have the song “Body” on loop in my head. The lyrics talk of experiencing sextortion, non-consensual sharing of intimate images. “It’s just my life and it’s just my body” being repeated again and again just hits home. The raw honesty in her lyrics partly inspired a verse to our song “Social Lubrication” where we speak about experience with date rape drugs in the lyrics—an attempt to control a body—“Push him away, say this wasn’t a meeting this wasn’t a date / You ain’t my mate, this ain’t confusing / That’s the rearview mirror for fucks sake.”
New Young Pony Club, “Ice Cream”
New Young Pony Club were a band I remember listening to as a young teen and they just really made you want to dance! They had those indie-disco rhythms, sixteenths on the hi-hat, four to the floor on the kick. I have a definite nostalgia for this era of indie music, something that almost naturally comes out when, as a band, Dream Wife write together. Like, it’s OK to have a good time with your friends, making music, locking into a groove, dancing while you play. This comes across in a big way on a song like “Orbit”—it has a similar laid back cool factor, but also draws you in with its disco beats and holds you under its groove. Big up to Paves digging deep into some disco rhythms on this one.
The B-52’s, “Love Shack”
The B-52’s are such a silly band. They aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves, the absurdity of music and being in a band. Their sense of humor has always drawn me back to them. When writing Social Lubrication there were many times where as a band you just have a laugh together, you have a shared language of humor, you all just crack each other up—sometimes this comes out in the music you’re writing. The song “Hot” is a prime example of this, poking fun at ourselves and having a good time while we’re at it. “Love Shack,” for me, is in there somewhere, deep down, as a seed during the writing process. It’s OK to be totally ridiculous. As the saying goes, you have to make them laugh before you can make them cry.
Be Your Own Pet, “The Kelley Affair”
Be Your Own Pet have always been one of my favorite guitar bands—their energy is infectious, their power is ferocious. For both Bella and myself, this band has always been in our hearts for the way they somehow encapsulate the joy and dynamism of performing and locking in as a punk band. “The Kelley Affair” in particular is outrageous teen-rock wildness. The riffs in this track are so over the top I can’t get enough. Inspiration can be heard on a track like “I Want You”—a short, sharp, dirty little rocker. It’s a dynamo of a song, it’s nothing but a good time with wall-to-wall riffs.
Peaches, “Rock Show”
Did you know Dream Wife actually used to play a cover of “Fuck The Pain Away”? From the start with our band, Peaches has been an inspiration. They are a total force of nature in their own right, doing it on their terms. Aside from their legendary status amongst us Wives and beyond, the song “Rock Show” 100 percent celebrates the joy of the sweaty, heavy, sexy gig. For the entirety of Social Lubrication we wanted to capture our live rock-show sound, getting that energy on record. “Rock Show” is an inspiration to being able to somehow capture and contain the energy and vibe of a live show, while still being a recorded song that stands in its own right. Big inspo across the board for Social Lubrication.
The Cribs, “Hey Scenesters!”
The Cribs are another longtime fave who we’ve actually had the joy of supporting at a number of shows in the UK. There’s an absolute charm to their spikey indie songs that feels almost a little timeless. There’s something about the simplicity of them as a three-piece, the dynamic nature of that unit—just drums, bass, and guitar—that makes their songs really exciting and is also really inspiring. They do a lot with not very much, in the best possible way. When approaching the instrumentation on Social Lubrication, the less-is-more approach was the path we chose, confidently working with the raw elements of our unit (bass, drums, guitar, and vocals) and focusing in on what they are in their raw form, how they’re enough.