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Album Review
Wild Flag

Wild Flag
by Wild Flag


Review Date
4th October 2011
Reviewed by
Justin Paul

One of the great joys of listening to music is the discovery of a new band to love. Almost equally joyful is rediscovering a band you loved long ago. Unsurprisingly, when one considers Wild Flag’s supergroup (hateful term) credentials, this self-titled debut offers both of these delights. Wild Flag is made up of ex-Helium guitarist Mary Timony, Rebecca Cole on keyboards plus Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, two-thirds of the consistently fantastic Sleater-Kinney. Fans who mourned S-K’s failure to emerge from 2005’s thrilling swan-song ‘The Woods’ will rush to ‘Wild Flag’, and most will conclude that Meat Loaf was wrong: two out of three is bloody marvellous.

Whether you are a fan of their previous bands or not, you have probably been waiting for ‘Wild Flag’ all year. To say that this is balls-out rock would be misleading on several counts, but each song explodes into life on the back of a drum and guitar onslaught. Janet Weiss drums like the Indian goddess Kali – eternal energy and arms – tongue out and flourishing a necklace of shrunken John Bonham heads. Like Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier and The National’s Bryan Devendorf, Weiss’s drumming threatens to first bludgeon then kidnap the show. Not that Timony and Brownstein are shrinking violets. Both are blood-fingered guitar heroines, and their interplay on ‘Glass Tambourine’s psychedelic wig-out and the runaway ‘Racehorse’ mark two of the album’s many highlights. Soon enough, the listener will find themselves not only singing, but chugging along to the riffs.

There are no dud tracks on ‘Wild Flag’, but the vocals may prove divisive. On ‘Racehorse’, Brownstein’s bark and yelp suggest a female Jagger and suit the track, but elsewhere this could distract the undecided listener. The vocals work best when less forced - as on ‘Electric Band’ - and in the girl-group harmonies that are scattered throughout. Aside from the vocals, ‘Wild Flag’ was recorded live. This comes as no surprise: you can sense the sheer enjoyment of musicians playing together on this album. Lead single and first song, ‘Romance’, is an ode to rock, the life-affirming power of music and begins, ‘Hey, can you feel it? The way it sways you, / The hum in your chest?’ The answer is a resounding, fist-pumping ‘Yes’. Wild Flag sound as if they love music. They also sound like a band in which you would love to play. This is the best flat-out rock record of the year.

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