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."
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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."
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."
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