GIVEN THE brilliance of the debut, and their prowess as a live band - witness that unforgettable gig in the Róisín Dubh in October 2018 - expectations were high for Dream Wife's second album.
Such expectations can be an albatross around a band's neck, but the trio of Bella Podpadec (bass ), Rakel Mjöll (vocals ), and Alice Go (guitar ) have avoided the pitfalls of 'more of the same' or a volte-face. Instead they have delivered an album which builds on the debut's template and offers intriguing springboards for future direction.
‘Sports’, ‘Homesick’, and the title track are exciting, uncompromising, Feminist indie-punk, which give Alice Go - the most exciting guitarist of recent years - plenty of room to let rip imaginatively on her axe, while the charismatic Mjöll deliveries rallying cries ("Serve it. Smash it. Win It. Own It" - 'Sports ) and sensuality ("I like the way you soothe me, each touch got me calling out for thee" - 'Homesick' ) with equal conviction and convincingness.
Yet So When You Gonna… also shows how Dream Wife has grown these past two years. The songwriting is more diverse, with new sonic elements (eg, the electro of 'Old Flame', the indie-pop stylings of 'Hasta La Vista' ), a much wider sense of light and shade, fast and slow, tenderness and edge.
The most striking manifestation of this is the powerful closer, ‘After The Rain’, concerning abortion and bodily autonomy. Dominated by stately, melancholy piano, it features Mjölll’s greatest, most poignant, vocal performance to date.
So When You Gonna… represents the trio expanding their own borders and horizons, broadening out the sense of both their sound and themselves. A triumph.