Wild Flag: 2011's 'first 4-star album'?

The debut disc from an indie-rock supergroup boasting members from Sleater-Kinney, the Minders, and Helium may be the year's best yet

The all-female indie group Wild Flag's eponymous debut album is getting rave reviews giving other big releases some stiff competition.
(Image credit: Amazon.com)

Wild Flag — a quartet of the past decade's most celebrated indie-rock goddesses — is releasing a self-titled debut album on Tuesday that is the most anticipated "supergroup" collaboration of the year... at least "among a particular strain of NPR-listening indie-rock obsessives," says Jessica Grose at Slate. Wild Flag is comprised of Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss (two former members of Sleater-Kinney), Rebecca Cole (The Minders), and Mary Timony (Helium, Autoclave, and the Mary Timony Band). The record is already being praised as "the year's first four-star album." In a year packed with heralded releases by Bon Iver, R.E.M., and Kanye West and Jay-Z, is Wild Flag really the best so far?

Yes. It's "a debut for the ages": This "combustive mix of indie-rock veterans" has made "one of the year's best albums," says Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribune. The songs are carefully constructed, but they never sound "stable or static." The album veers from evoking '60s-era girl groups to the "new-wave kicks of the Cars," and teeters "on the ledge of chaos, of mayhem fighting melody for control."

"Wild Flag: Year's first 4-star album"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

And Mary Timony provides the secret sauce: Undoubtedly, critics will heap praise on Wild Flag for Carrie Brownstein's guitar riffs and Janet Weiss' drumming, says Jim DeRogatis at WBEZ. But it's Mary Timony who is really "the secret weapon and driving force behind the new band." Brownstein and Weiss have always packed "attitude and energy," but Sleater-Kinney lacked memorable songwriting. Enter Timony, whose lyrics have "always delivered the melodic goods," along with a "welcome dose of weirdness."

"Album review: Wild Flag, Wild Flag"

Actually, it's a letdown: On the first listen, says Joanne Huffa at NOW, "it's tough to get over the fact that the band isn't Sleater-Kinney." The second Weiss' drum beats kick in and Brownstein's guitar and vocals start dominating the track, you'll be nostalgic for the once-great band. Wild Flag is a "poppier affair" than most of Sleater-Kinney's music, and that may not be a good thing. This albums "vocal quirks don't always work."

"Disc review: Wild Flag"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.