Words: Jordan Gorsuch
Youthful abandon, that’s what brash post-punk rockers Pink Flag encapsulate so well. They’re reckless and refined, teetering on the edge of insanity and crystal clear coherence.
Pink Flag’s This Gift of Knives is a minor miracle in how much it manages to cram into its short running time. Ridiculous flowing riffs, a blunt bass, and tight drumming are the background for Betsy Shane’s terrific vocals. She goes from bright, perky melodies to harsh declarations of mistreatment in all forms. “A Letter I Won’t Send” is a stand-out center piece that showcases Shane’s emotional range, along with how well the instruments act congruently to contextualize the various emotions she is working through.
The best song of the album serves as the album’s mission statement: poppy melodies, poignant lyrics, and thrashy guitars; “I Work Here. What’s Your Excuse?” is that song that post-punk bands aim to create. “I swear sometimes, I wish you had just killed me that night,” Shane sings to this person that just seems to get under her skin despite every follicle in her body telling her not to give in. It’s a powerful track, and it accurately details the futility in trying to control one’s emotions.
“Haunted” is a ramshackle song about the consequences of a loved one that is no longer in the picture. There are some wonderful ooooo’s along with one of the best guitar riffs on the album. “Phoenix” plays out like a bluesy Modest Mouse cut, and Shane sounds smoldering as she sings “now that the tables turned/now that you fucked up.” The knock-out tracks can be found as early as “Ted Bundy’s Heart,” which reveals a distraught dissonance between our external projections and internalized intentions. “So many people in the world, what’s one more unremarkable?” Certainly, this phrase does not apply to Pink Flag’s stunning album.