I’m sitting in a hotel in Los Angeles tonight, and the only reason I even know what day it is is because my Alaska Airlines app pinged me a few hours ago letting me know I could check in for my flight home tomorrow. So it must be Wednesday. Yesterday I was in a conference room from 6:30AM until 7:00PM. Tonight by some miracle I was only there from 6:30AM to 4:00PM. According to my airline app I’ve flown 46 segments this year, or 23 round trips. All but one of those were for work. Probably 20 of them were to Los Angeles. I’ve been here so long they know me at the hotel.
I don’t normally write on these trips because frankly I end up working too many hours and I’m totally brain fried by the end of the day. But while standing in line for takeout tonight I was FB messenging with my friend Bryan of the Ragnaarbastiaan blog (read his Airwaves recap HERE) and that got me itching to listen to some of the music we brought back from Iceland. Fortunately for me one of the records I’m most excited about included a download card, so I decided to give a listen to Dream Wife’s EP01 this evening while sipping on a fine bottled water (another 6:30AM start tomorrow…).
As soon as we heard Dream Wife’s singer when the band hit the stage at Harpa a couple of weeks ago both Holly and I figured she had to be none other than Rakel, who impressed me so much with her work on my pick for the best album of 2015, Halleluwah. We saw her perform live with Halleluwah last year as well, and while I wasn’t surprised she was once again sounding fantastic, I did raise an eyebrow at the strong stylistic change she made from the old school cabaret style of Halleluwah to the self-described “pool pop with a bite” of Dream Wife.
As soon as we got back to our apartment after seeing Dream Wife perform at Airwaves I got online and found out they had a new four-song release called EP01. The next morning I immediately began scouring Reykjavik for the limited vinyl release (300 pink copies, 300 baby blue), and fortunately I finally found a still-sealed copy at the downtown flea market, of all places. And I’m glad I did, because it’s killer.
EP01 opens with what I felt was the band’s strongest live song, “Hey Heartbreaker.” And damn, it sounds amazing on my earbuds. Dream Wife’s is very pop-punkish, a near perfect blend of Rikel’s vocals that don’t quite follow the music, the girlish “hey hey hey” chorus from Alice and Bella, and some tight musicianship. There’s a combination of attitude and innocence to Dream Wife that gives them a very honest feel. Rikel’s Icelandic accent (Alice & Bella are from the UK) gives her voice a bit of an otherworldly quality, a distinctiveness that when combined with her meandering style makes her impossible to ignore.
The next three tracks are a bit slower than the high-energy rocker “Hey Heartbreaker,” having a more dreamy quality. But that’s not to say they’re all slow and boring, because Dream Wife continues to bring it – “Kids” has some slightly surf-influenced rock-out to it at times. “Everything” maintains it’s slightly darker mid-tempo groove throughout, the closest that Rikel comes to resurrecting her Halleluwah sound, while “Lolita” (I’ve been your Lolita… I’ve been your toy...) uses some slow tempo build-ups that give you only the slightest release of a break before returning to it’s sultry, groovy origins in a way that almost toys with you.
I can’t say enough positive things about EP01 and Dream Wife’s live show. Hopefully these ladies will have a full length album for us sometime in 2017, because this EP left me desperately wanting more.