Tuesday, 4 October 2011

REVIEW: Wild Flag - Wild Flag

'Super groups' come and go. 

Often, they come and go without fans or press having decided whether or not they did indeed qualify for such elevated status in the first place. What remains - and the only element that is of much importance anyhow - is the music by which we judge their impact.

Wild Flag formed amid plenty of excitement, even before the first notes of this first album filtered through the wireless and into our lives. But then, counting amongst your number some of the most influential female players in US 90's alt-rock will have that effect.

Across the length of their self-titled debut, Wild Flag walk that precarious tightrope between channelling the music of the past and challenging that of the present day. In doing so, their balance is exquisite and they should reach the other side to rapturous applause. Influences pop up and bubble around on this album exactly as they should: in short doses that remind you of an era and style, without being immediately recognizable as a specific artist. Eventually you peg the relevant act and further appreciate how they've blended in the sound. 

Having listened through several times, I'm reminded of everyone from Elastica to Echobelly, the early punk of Blondie to the slinking post-punk of Fugazi. But never are the songs a facsimile of their roots. Every track has been stir brewed through the talent and experience of the magnificent musicians that make up this band. Start your journey with the jaunty 60's bounce of 'Endless Talk', or perhaps the more angular presentation of 'Glass Tambourine', and you'll hear exactly how wide the span of styles here is. Then, of course, there's album opener 'Romance', which helpfully provides an early digest of much that is to come, in one memorable burst of rolling guitars and an addictive refrain. 

So, a 'super group'? The answer remains of little use. Wild Flag is exactly what fans of Sleater Kinney and their other forebears desired to hear. Better still, it has myriad contemporary qualities that will appeal to listeners unaware of all that's gone before. 

Super or not, Wild Flag is undoubtedly an album that will garner plenty of superlatives. 

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