A great blues man once warned us of the perils of judging a book by the cover, but, between the punky black-and-white cover shot of the band on their self-titled debut long-player and the blood spatter motif of the vinyl itself, this writer may have indulged in a little harmless subconscious pigeonholing as we prepared to touch needle to wax.
"Let's Make Out" soon filled the room with an edgy pop snarl that did little to dispel my preconceptions. As Brits Alice Go (guitar, vocals), and Bella Podpadec (bass, vocals) work up a respectable head of pop punk steam, it is Icelandic singer Rakel Mjöll's vocals that begin revealing engagingly melodic nuances not that far removed from Cocteau Twin's Elizabeth Fraser or Bjork.
On "Somebody", Mjöll turns the song's refrain ("I am not my body, I am somebody") into a hypnotic and empowering mantra while Alice Go (guitar, vocals), and Bella Podpadec (bass, vocals) create wiry melodies that recall Joy Division at their most visceral.
"Hey Heartbreaker" is the album's obvious centerpiece, with its anthemic strut, hand claps, and Mjöll's vocals at their most playful and seductive, but, just as quickly, the band dives into the tormented "Love Without Reason" and explores the dark, self-conscious side of love.
"Kids", "Taste" and "Act My Age" follow in rapid-fire fashion, each propelled by Go's fluid guitar work and elevated to greatness by Mjöll's vocals, which effortlessly morph from song to song, displaying a remarkable sense of melody and nuance that keeps the whole affair swinging right along.
By the time album-closer "F.U.U." fades out you'll be hitting REPEAT and asking where Dream Wife have been your whole life.