The Liverpool duo Red Flag (brothers Chris and Mark Reynolds) released their debut album, Naïve Art, in 1989. Red Flag, like other late-'80s/early-'90s bands such as Camouflage and Cause & Effect, offer a similar mix of gloomy, synthesizer-driven dance-pop made popular by synth rock kings Depeche Mode. Derivative yet melodic, Naïve Art is a decent debut, though it eventually runs out of steam. Red Flag's obvious debt to Depeche Mode is immediately apparent in the minor club hits "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio." Though the production is a bit rough around the edges, the combination of cold synth beats and the emotionless vocal approach (similar to Depeche's Martin Gore) makes perfect dancefloor fodder for the disaffected goth pop club crowd. Like Depeche Mode's best work, what makes Naïve Art bearable is Red Flag's obvious gift of songcraft. Both "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio" are comparable to some of Depeche's best work, and although much of Naïve Art sounds the same after a while, the album flows along quite nicely. Those who criticize Depeche Mode for being pretentious and "wimpy" certainly won't find any redeeming qualities in Red Flag, but Naïve Art should satisfy fans of the genre. Recommended.
Anti-Flag’s new studio album, American Fall, follows 2015’s well-received American Spring. With Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden on board as co-producer, the band has intensified their signature anthemic style with bigger melodies, tighter songcraft, and thicker guitars.