Album Review: Wild Flag, ‘Wild Flag’

Download (right click, “save as”): Wild Flag, “Romance”

With the wealth of music available to music aficionados online these days, it has become almost futile to try and pinpoint exactly where many bands stand genre-wise. This, as artists too are ingesting previously unheard of amounts of auditory information, leading to the formation of a sound that cannot be accurately or usefully bound by labels. This exercise in labeling futility proves especially true for Wild Flag’s eponymously titled debut album.

Wild Flag is an all-female rock “super-group” with a sound evoking everything from 90s indie rock to Patti Smith to melodic 60s rock. They are a quartet consisting of ex-members of indie-rock groups Helium, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Sleater-Kinney amongst others, who have signed to local Durham-based independent label Merge Records. The only common denominators within the LP’s ten songs are a penchant for guitar shredding and engraining an energetic emotional tone with a courage rarely seen in a debut.

In the songs “Romance”, “Short Version” and “Something Came Over Me” Wild Flag’s sound is most fully fleshed out. “Romance”, their lead-off single, is the most readily accessible song on the album with a synthesis of twangy surf rock and first-wave punk that reaches its apex at the repetitive yet catchy chorus, “That’s how we like / We like what we like / That’s what we like / We love which is you”.

“Something Came Over Me”, the magnum opus of Wild Flag, is where the raw emotionality and guitar interplay is at its most majestic. Mary Timony’s heartfelt exasperation “Let the good times roll” encapsulates the song’s and, by extension, the album’s general philosophy of enjoying the moment and getting lost in the music around you.

However, even with these standouts, other songs on the second half of the album–namely “Electric Band” and “Racehorse”—are comparatively subpar, lacking the cohesiveness of the other pieces. They seem to drag on, repeating the sound of the earlier songs without adding anything substantial emotionally or musically to the record.

Taken as a whole, Wild Flag is a unique and label-evading romp into the realm of rock and roll, leaving the listener desirous of another energetic guitar binge that will hopefully sate the rock gods once again.