Friday, December 1, 2023
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Dream Wife – Social Lubrication Review

Grease up the charm and squeeze back into a social life. Remnants of communal connection litter Social Lubrication, the third record from the punk rock powers of Dream Wife. Alternative charms are dialled up as high as possible with this new release, now played and played by those faithful fans and music journalists late to the party. Better late than never for an album like Social Lubrication, and well worth the wait in getting around to it. Thumping, moody and heavy guitar work from opener Kick in the Teeth is just as its title would suggest. This record may be the punch-in-the-mouth Dream Wife was hoping for, but it is much more than an explosive presence for a band bashing out their third album. 

More than anything, it is a truly grand and great punk record. There is a dance-punk core buried under the isolated vocals and slick guitar work on Who Do You Want To Be?. Neutered it may be, it can still be heard, working hard under the wailing punk cries which found themselves all those years ago in the Sex Pistols mantra. Carrying that forward is not what Dream Wife does, though they are of the same quality fabric which made the likes of Johnny Rotten, Wire and The Clash so engaged in the world around them. Times are changing and so too are Dream Wife, who present comments on the culture of the time. Hot (Don’t Date a Musician) has a stunning relevancy to all those indie-going clubbers who find themselves attracted to the alternative late-night lifestyle.  

It sure beats being interested in postmen. Even if their interest is berated by Dream Wife, it is hard not to pursue it and the allure created by it all is stunning to hear put to tape. Their title track terrors bring about a broody and darker tone which lends itself to those dark corners of the nightclub aesthetic anyway. Harsh and unremitting moments of true and pure instrumental independence. All the usual comparisons can be made to the likes of Mascara, but at the end of it all Dream Wife are ramming through the counterculture movement with a purpose. It is more than can be said for a bunch of other hangers-ons of the time. There is never a moment on Social Lubrication where Dream Wife do not feel like the real deal. Their romanticised efforts on Mascara create a nice ballast.  

Still holding a crunch and clang to their sound, Dream Wife are drifting toward something, either accidentally or intentionally, which marries their sound with the atmosphere of the era. Dance in the early hours to Social Lubrication. It is not, initially, what it is for, but it can be used for such movement. Romanticise it all and be damned when it turns out some other way. Spoken-word shockwaves on Leeches and the repetition of I Want You see a bit of a nosedive away from those scatterings of unique explosiveness, but not enough to stop Dream Wife in their tracks. Pulpy, punk spirit is in plentiful supply now more and more news comes through to scream and wail about, and Dream Wife lead the charge of great quality statements.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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