Wendy & Lisa: White Flags of Winter Chimneys

I have a TV blog. It’s dead. The one-two punch of TiVo and the writer’s strike from a few years back killed it.

It didn’t help the shows that came in the wake of the strike’s conclusion sucked — nothing on the level of The West Wing or Gilmore Girls (shut up), Battlestar Galactica and Friday Night Lights not withstanding.

Perhaps the one good thing to come out of the strike was a new album by Wendy & Lisa. The former members of Prince and the Revolution became film and television composers in the late-’90s, and the strike put them out of work when productions shut down.

The duo’s previous album, Girl Bros., was released in 1998, and the decade of work since then greatly expanded the pair’s sonic palette. White Flags of Winter Chimneys bears little resemblance to their post-Prince solo work.

Simply put, it’s the rock album they always had in them.

It’s also the pair’s most ambitious album, tightly sequenced in a single, flowing program. If the last two Death Cab for Cutie albums are any indication, just because you segue your tracks doesn’t make it a complete work.

White Flags of Winter Chimneys feels bigger — and simultaneously more intimate — than it’s compact time frame would indicate. "Balloon" starts with the hushed vocals of Lisa but eventually grows into a near psychedelic collage of voices, synthetic effects and Wendy’s chiming guitar.

A lazy pulse drives "Niagra Falls", but Wendy comes crashing in at crucial points with a wash of guitars. "Red Bike" starts off quietly but doesn’t that way when the chorus arrives.

"Invisible" and "Salt & Cherries (MC5)" find the pair rocking out in a way not yet heard before. Long-time fans will definitely miss the funk aspect of their sound, but Wendy & Lisa do a tremendous job fleshing out the ideas first explored on Girl Bros.

On previous albums, Wendy took most of the lead vocals, but this time, Lisa drives some of the more dramatic moments. On tracks such as "Sweet Suite" and "Ever After", the music gets out of the way for her near whisper.

In the past, rock was just one aspect of Wendy & Lisa’s eclectic sound, but now, they’ve taken that "influence" and given it center focus. They sound great doing so.