Red Flag


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The synth-pop duo Red Flag has had a pretty rocky commercial history since the Enigma release of their debut album Naïve Art in 1989. Though their sound was obviously derivative of Depeche Mode, Red Flag scored a couple of minor dance hits with "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio." After the release of the remix album Naïve Dance, Enigma Records was no more and Red Flag signed to IRS Records. Their only IRS release was the single "Machines," which wasn't released until 1992 and was universally ignored. Six years had passed between the release of their first album and The Lighthouse, their second full-length release, which finally saw the light of day on the dou's own Plan B label in 1995. With The Lighthouse, Red Flag puts the Depeche-style dance-pop on the back burner with a considerably more esoteric approach. The album is a dreamy, often beautiful piece of work that is better suited to quiet, relaxing evenings at home than to dance clubs. Brothers Chris Reynolds and Mark Reynolds have crafted an album that (like Roxy Music's classic Avalon and David Sylvian's Gone to Earth) gently pulls the listener into a state of tranquility while maintaining enough melody and songcraft to prevent it from becoming a complete snooze. Predictably, much of The Lighthouse sounds the same after a while -- the material rarely rises above a whisper -- and fans of Red Flag's previous efforts may be put off by the album's different direction. But the sheer beauty of tracks like "Inner Sea" and "Ambient Tier" shouldn't go unappreciated. The Lighthouse is background music of the highest order.

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