[UNDER THE BANNER OF ROCK] In the music video for "Romance," the lead single on their recently released self-titled debut, the members of Wild Flag play unlikely work buddies who, on their lunch hour, secretly meet, don Halloween masks and wreak harmless havoc on Portland (e.g., knocking records off Jackpot's shelves and replacing them with Wild Flag's own LP). Both in and out of character, they look like they're having a blast.
That feeling—that Wild Flag is having fun—defines the group's new record. Wild Flag is an album of hooky rock 'n' roll that captures the band's jubilance and communicates it in the eloquent language of a group of veteran musicians (which, for those who haven't followed breathless music-news coverage of the "supergroup," includes former Sleater-Kinney bandmates Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, Helium's Mary Timony, and Rebecca Cole, formerly of the Minders.
After some two decades of musical flirting between its members, this Portland/Washington, D.C., foursome's eagerness to make music together has resulted in a couple of seemingly dashed-off songs, such as the underdeveloped "Boom." But in most cases, the evident chemistry among Wild Flag's players makes for sure-footed songwriting. The aforementioned "Romance" is exemplary: The super-catchy opening track starts with a bright, chunky keyboard riff before adding Brownstein's distinctive gut-spilling vocals and later transforming into a yell-along anthem. Indeed, while Wild Flag is certainly no pep rally, many songs on the disc feel anthemic, from the driving "Future Crimes" to album finale—and highlight—"Black Tiles." These seem like rallying cries for good, clean pop-music fun, and we'll toe that line. After all, Timony reminds us as "Black Tiles" builds to a peeling guitar outro, "For all we know we're just here/ for the length of the song."