Infusing the angular sounds of the early aughts with a healthy dose of riot grrrl power, indie rock outfit Dream Wife delivered a fierce debut packed with jagged guitar riffs, sneering kiss-offs, and irresistible charm. On Dream Wife, the trio of Rakel Mjoll, Alice Go, and Bella Podpadec channel their predecessors with precision and ease, distilling the grit and groove of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sahara Hotnights, and the Sounds, while paying their respects to forebears like Sleater-Kinney and Kathleen Hanna's Bikini Kill, and Le Tigre. Mjoll's vocals veer between fiery howl ("Let's Make Out") and detached coo ("Love Without Reason"), sometimes within the same song ("Taste"). It's a thrill to hear, her voice a whirlwind blend of Karen O, Björk, and Maja Ivarsson (the Sounds). Sweet harmonies slam against furious post-punk guitars on "Fire" while handclaps and "hey, hey, hey"s resurrect the Runaways on "Hey Heartbreaker," which seduces with a wink before it delivers a beer-soaked punch to the face. They empower on anthems like "Somebody," where Mjoll declares, "I am not my body/I am somebody" while showing brief vulnerability while singing "let's be kids that fall in love" on "Love Without Reason." The album closer "F.U.U." ("fuck you up") is a ferocious dose of punk fury that features rabid guest Fever Dream. It's an explosive storm that leaves little in its wake, an exhausting end to a debut that captures lightning in a bottle. Dream Wife have seized a certain energy that is undeniable and -- despite the myriad inspirations and easy comparisons -- feels so fresh and alive, enough to make their trailblazing influences proud.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung