Why are we marching hand-in-hand?
Why are the ocean levels rising up?
It's a brand new record for 1990
They Might Be Giants' brand new album: Flood!"
Flood is the third studio album by They Might Be Giants, released in 1990 by Elektra Records, marking the band's major-label debut. It was their most commercially successful album, thanks to the cult hit singles "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)". It remains considered one of the band's best, and many people pointed it as their gateway to the band.
- "Theme from Flood" (0:28)
- "Birdhouse in Your Soul" (3:20)
- "Lucky Ball & Chain" (2:46)
- "Istanbul (Not Constaninople)" (2:38)
- "Dead" (2:58)
- "Your Racist Friend" (2:54)
- "Particle Man" (1:59)
- "Twisting" (1:56)
- "We Want a Rock" (2:47) note
- "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair" (2:23)
- "Hearing Aid" (3:26)
- "Minimum Wage" (0:47)
- "Letterbox" (1:25)
- "Whistling in the Dark" (3:25)
- "Hot Cha" (1:34)
- "Women & Men" (1:46)
- "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love" (1:26)
- "They Might Be Giants" (2:46)
- "Road Movie to Berlin" (2:22)
Someone Keeps Troping My Chair
- Album Intro Track: "Theme from Flood" combines this with Album Title Drop.It's a brand new record for 1990
They Might Be Giants' brand new album "Flood"!
- Ambiguous Syntax: Dead opens "I returned a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the expiration date" which makes it sound like the singer simply returned some groceries for a refund, only for the next line to immediately clarify that the singer specifically died and reincarnated as said bag.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Mr. Horrible of "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair" undergoes many humiliations, starting with — presumably — his nickname and also including things being spilled on his brain and a "visiting friend" being killed. Still, the only thing he thinks to complain about is the inconvenience in the song title.
- Be Yourself: Subverted in "Whistling in the Dark", which is what the narrator says he is doing when he is being himself. However, "whistling in the dark" often means "speaking of something despite having little knowledge of it", which means that when the narrator is being himself, he has no idea what he is supposed to be doing. This could lead the listener to assume that the meaning of the song is that we often actually do need other people telling us what to do.
- Berserk Button: "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair": Whatever you do, don't move his chair!
- Bluebird of Happiness: "Birdhouse in Your Soul", by John Linnell, includes the phrase "blue bird of friendliness".
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: From "Theme from Flood":Why is the world in love again?
Why are we marching hand in hand?
Why are the ocean levels rising up?
- Break Up Song:
- "Lucky Ball & Chain" is of the "I blew it, but it's too late" genre, with the singer drinking excessively and lamenting his foolishness over his fiancee walking out on him four years prior.
- "Twisting" meanwhile is a third-person take on the "Don't want you back" variety; the song is from the point of view of a friend of the ex-girlfriend, who is telling her ex in no uncertain terms that the only way she wants to see said ex again is if they're suffering, "twisting... in the wind."
- Butt-Monkey: Person Man from "Particle Man". Apart from all the other miseries he has to put up with, Triangle Man hates him and beats him up.Person Man, Person Man
Hit on the head with a frying pan
Lives his life in a garbage can
Is he depressed, or is he a mess?
Does he feel totally worthless?
Who came up with Person Man?
Degraded man, Person Man
- Cover Version: "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", a cover of the 1953 Four Lads song. (TMBG made a point of not listening to the original again until after they recorded their own arrangement.)
- Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover is in green and white except for the Flood logo, having been taken from a Great Depression-era photo. The back of the CD case and the liner notes background images are a golden-yellow and white.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Particle Man"Particle Man, Particle Man
Doing the things a particle can
- Drowning My Sorrows: In "Lucky Ball and Chain"Now I rock the barstool and I drink for two
Just pondering this time-bomb in my mind
- Extra Eyes: From "Letterbox"If I had a pair of eyes on the back of my head for each time
You forgot to take out all the things you forgot to talk about
When you took a bite out of my spine
I would have a lot of eyes on me by this time, wouldn't I?
Wouldn't that just be fine?
- Extreme Doormat: Mr. Horrible in "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair", who keeps having bad things done to him by the narrator and his Ugliness Men, yet Horrible's only complaint is the song's title.
- Guttural Growler: Linnell greatly deepens his voice for "Whistling in the Dark".
- Frying Pan of Doom: According to "Particle Man", Person Man gets "Hit on the head with a frying pan."
- Hypocritical Humor: The video for "Birdhouse In Your Soul" features marching protesters holding signs that say STOP ROCK VIDEO.
- In Vino Veritas: The impetus for the conflict in "Your Racist Friend":He let the contents of the bottle do the thinking
- "I Want" Song: "We Want a Rock".
- "Just Joking" Justification: The titular character in "Your Racist Friend" is implied to have used this when he gives a backhanded apology for his behavior.
- Last Note Nightmare: The harsh guitar solo that closes out "Hearing Aid".
- Limited Lyrics Song: "Minimum Wage" is just the title, a "hyah!" shout, and a whip crack. The rest of the song is instrumental.
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Theme from Flood", "Birdhouse in Your Soul", "Dead", "Particle Man", "Whistling in the Dark" and "Women & Men".
- Mind Screw: "Birdhouse in Your Soul"I'm your only friend, I'm not your only friend
But I'm a little glowing friend
But really, I'm not actually your friend, but I am
- Miniscule Rocking: Many tracks are less than two or three minutes long. "Birdhouse In Your Soul," "Hearing Aid," and "Whistling in the Dark" are the only songs longer than three minutes. "Theme From Flood" and "Minimum Wage" are less than a minute long, while "Particle Man" and "Twisting" are almost two minutes.
- Motor Mouth: "Letterbox"
- One-Man Song: "Particle Man".
- One-Word Title: "Dead", "Twisting", "Letterbox".
- Patter Song: The lyrics of "Letterbox" go by so fast that it's difficult to discern them without a lyric sheet by your side.
- The Power of Love: "Birdhouse in Your Soul"Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
- Properly Paranoid: "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair".
- Protest Song: "Your Racist Friend" was their first fairly direct example.
- "The Reason You Suck" Song: "Your Racist Friend"This is where the party ends
I can't sit here listening to you and your racist friend
- Rearrange the Song: As shown here, "Particle Man" has been subject to all sorts of retooling by the band in live shows. They've shifted the instrumentation, done it as an Unplugged Version, did one version In the Style of... "Strawberry Fields Forever", and have added a breakdown section where Linnell performs part of a Cover Version of an older song in a fairly straight manner (with "The Sign" and "Here You Come Again" as two of the more memorable ones). They've also released a version sung by an elementary school music class.
- Reincarnation: "Dead", about a man dying and reincarnating as a grocery bag.
- Refrain from Assuming: ... that Istanbul is still called Constantinople.
- Runaway Bride: "Lucky Ball and Chain" is about a guy reminiscing about his relationship with his fiancee after she left him at the altar.
- Serious Business: In "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair":You have to try on these pants so the Ugliness Men
Can decide if they're just as embarrassing as we think
We have to be sure about this.
- The Flood logo on the front cover is a nod to the logo of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union that most film crews belong to, with the logo most always displayed prominently at the end of closing credit rolls. The idea was to convey that this album was more "cinematic" in scope than earlier TMBG albums.
- "Birdhouse In Your Soul" refers to the Greek Mythology tale Jason and the Argonauts.Though I respect that a lot
I'd be fired if that were my job
After killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts
- As different as the songs sound, "We Want a Rock" takes both its title and theme from Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock". It also references "If I Were a Carpenter" by Tim Hardin and "I'm Gonna Burn Your Playhouse Down" by George Jones.
- "Lucky Ball and Chain" references Darlene Love's "(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Going to Marry."
- "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love" takes its title from a very short 1973 Mahavishnu Orchestra song. Lyrically, it sounds like a shout out to Green Lantern; Hal Jordan's girlfriend, Carol Ferris, has a tendency to become Star Sapphire, whose powers are fueled by love, when she feels scorned by him, and, while John could be referring to the two bandmates, it could also be Hal's partner, John Stewart.John, I've been bad, and they're coming after me
Done someone wrong, and I fear that it was me
- The music of "Minimum Wage" is borrowed from a Frank Sinatra cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown".
- "Your Racist Friend" is often assumed to be one to "Racist Friend" by The Specials, but Linnell admitted in an interview that they weren't aware of that song when they wrote theirs.
- "Twisting" name-checks The dB's and The Young Fresh Fellows.
- It's possible that "Particle Man" ("doing the things a particle can") is a shout out to the iconic theme from Spider-Man (1967).
- Singer Name Drop:
- "Theme From Flood"It's a brand new record for 1990
They Might Be Giants' brand new album "Flood"!
- "They Might Be Giants"We can't be silent
'Cause they might be giants
And what're we gonna do, unless they are?
- "Theme From Flood"
- Stop and Go: "Road Movie To Berlin" has several sudden interruptions before they continue the song again.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Birdhouse In Your Soul" does this in the second bridge before reverting back to its original key for the following verse.
- The Walrus Was Paul: "Particle Man" seems like a very cryptic song, and it isn't clear who the four "men" are supposed to represent, if anyone. John Flansburgh described it as "just a song about characters in the most obvious sense" and claims that the lyrics are not intended to invoke real people, though Linnell later said that Triangle Man was based on a friend's observation that Robert Mitchum looked like an evil triangle when he took his shirt off in The Night of the Hunter.
- Who Writes This Crap?!: "Particle Man".Who came up with Person Man?
- With Friends Like These...: "Your Racist Friend".