Wild Flag's Heartwarming '90s Hangover

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Wild Flag's self-titled, long-percolating record begins with a song called "Romance," a remarkable love letter to 'the sound.' Guitarist and dominant vocalist Carrie Brownstein climbs to the top of her modest range and squeezes out: "We sing till we're crying ... Sound is the love between me and you ... " It's no grand and empty sentiment meant to rev up a crowd and fill up a chorus. Some may use that ploy, but these guys aren't doing it because they have to. Brownstein, Mary Timony, Janet Weiss, and Rebecca Cole have made a rather miraculous thing for us, twenty-some years after they began playing music: they've made the old new without leaving the scars, and given us something deep down we knew we wanted -- a judgement-free slap in the face.

That's where the power of this band comes into full spotlight. Maybe it's a result of sonic saturation, and how the records you're listening to pass over you without impact. But Wild Flag reminds you of all the nice things about childhood and earnest enthusiasm and liking what you do. It's an intensely human record in a time of unstoppable digital retrospect, sneers and hands on hips and shit-talking winks. The guitars are emotive and wriggly and punctuational, the drums are off-straight and raw, the keys are doing the carnival shuffle -- this is no detached indie thesis paper, it's a mural in sharpie and house paint.

Maybe Carrie Brownstein puts it best for everyone, on the topic of Wild Flag and everything else: "If you don't lose it, you're gonna use it." [Stream Wild Flag via NPR here.]