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Don't get swept under; a number's a number.
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Pink Flag is the 1977 debut album by Art Punk band Wire. It took the basic ethos of Punk Rock and stripped it down even further: tracks ran as short as 1 minute down to 30 seconds at blistering speed, songs didn't always "end" so much as "stop", some tracks barely used more than two chords, and the overall composition from the instruments to the vocals was cold and detached.

Often seen as their defining statement, the album was hugely influential to the Post-Punk, Alternative Rock, and Hardcore Punk of The '80s, the single "12 X U" in particular being one of the forerunners of Hardcore Punk. It was placed at #412 on Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The band would add electronics and Progressive Rock influences to their sound for their second album, Chairs Missing, thereby becoming Trope Codifiers of Post-Punk, but they would never sound like Pink Flag ever again.

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Tracklist:

Side One
  1. "Reuters" (3:03)
  2. "Field Day for the Sundays" (0:28)
  3. "Three Girl Rhumba" (1:23)
  4. "Ex Lion Tamer" (2:19)
  5. "Lowdown" (2:26)
  6. "Start to Move" (1:13)
  7. "Brazil" (0:41)
  8. "It's So Obvious" (0:53)
  9. "Surgeon's Girl" (1:17)
  10. "Pink Flag" (3:47)

Side Two

  1. "The Commercial" (0:49)
  2. "Straight Line" (0:44)
  3. "106 Beats That" (1:12)
  4. "Mr. Suit" (1:25)
  5. "Strange" (3:58)
  6. "Fragile" (1:18)
  7. "Mannequin" (2:37)
  8. "Different to Me" (0:43)
  9. "Champs" (1:46)
  10. "Feeling Called Love" (1:22)
  11. "12 X U" (1:56)

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Troping in the big swim, rising to the surface:

  • Affectionate Parody: "Brazil" is intended to be a parody of punk cliches at the time, such as extravagant metaphors ("Until they split the atom") and militarism (such as the chant of "LEFT-RIGHT" at the end).
  • Hardcore Punk: Trope Makers with the album overall, particularly "12 X U". The songs' brevity and aggression were heavily influential to Hardcore Punk bands such as Minor Threat.
  • Incredibly Long Note: The last word in "Reuters".
  • Instrumentals: "The Commercial".
  • Lighter and Softer: After the heavy first half of the album, the second includes Buzzcocks-like Pop Punk songs "Fragile" and "Mannequin".
  • Madness Mantra: "Pink Flag" ends with an extended sequence of the band screaming "HOW MANY?!" as the tempo continuously speeds up.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: A pink flag rose on a flat background.
  • Miniscule Rocking: One of the album's trademarks. The band never plays a song beyond what seems necessary, thus most songs last between 0:30 - 1:30. "Field Day for the Sundays" is only 0:28!
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Brazil", "106 Beats That", "Mannequin". Most of these titles relate to the content of the lyrics in some way, but a few are more oblique: "Brazil" refers to the samba-like groove of Gotobed's drum part, and "106 Beats That" was originally written to be 106 beats long.
  • Post-Punk: The album is an Ur-Example with its cold and angular sound. The band would become Trope Codifiers with their next two albums.
  • Pun-Based Title: The "X" in "12 X U" is self-censorship for "fuck" (so "12 X U" = "want to fuck you").
  • Puppy Love: Parodied and deconstructed in "Brazil":
    It's true darling, I'll walk you home
    I'll be your date forever
    ...
    So many times, there's nothing left
    There's nothing left at all
  • Referenced by...: The riff from "Three Girl Rhumba" was lifted for the Elastica song "Connection", one of nine songs lifted by Elastica.
  • Shout-Out: "Ex Lion Tamer" mentions two popular TV duos—The Lone Ranger and Tonto, and Batman and Robin.
  • Signs of the End Times: "Reuters":
    Prices have risen since the government fell
    Casualties increase as the enemy shell
    The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive
    And sooner or later the end will arrive
    • Also referenced in "Ex Lion Tamer":
      Next week will solve your problems
      But now, fish fingers all in a line
      The milk bottles stand empty
      Stay glued to your T.V. sets!
    • And not to mention the Title Track:
      I was sold up the river to the red slave trade
      The stores were gathered, the plans were laid
      Synchronised watches at 18:05
      How many dead or alive
      In ninteen fifty-five?
  • Take That!: "Field Day for the Sundays" is one directed at tabloid journalism.
    I want to be a target for the dailies so they can show
    Pictures of me with a nude on page three
    So lacking in taste
    Touched up near the waist, looking as limp as Monday morning
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: "Feeling Called Love":
    What is this feeling called love?
    What is this crazy thing I can't explain anyhow?
  • Word Purée Title: "12 X U".
  • Word Salad Title: "Three Girl Rhumba", "Ex Lion Tamer", "106 Beats That".
  • Your Cheating Heart: "Three Girl Rhumba", about someone who Really Gets Around.
    A chance encounter you want to avoid
    The inevitable
    So you do, oh yes you do
    The impossible
    Now you ain't got a number
    You just want to rhumba
    And there ain't no way you're gonna go under

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