Track by Track Guide to the Geek-Chic Breakthrough
Issued the first week of 1990, Flood was a landmark release in the evolution from college rock (the awkward handle for music like R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü that dominated university radio stations in the 1980s) to the alternative movement that defined much of the 1990s. Flood is still a hallmark in geek chic's rise, too: the Giants' two previous LPs proved a skinny guy with an accordion and a partner in crime wearing black-plastic glasses could rock a party.The article is worth a read if you're interested in the technical details of how the band created its sound. Or if, like me, you've spent the last almost-20 years wondering about some of those lyrics.
One early morning when I was a senior in college, an urgent question kept me awake: What did the characters in "Particle Man" represent? Particle Man himself obviously stood for the downtrodden, but what about the benevolent Universe Man? Why did Triangle Man hate Particle Man? Why was Triangle Man called that?
This went on for a while until well-modulated, calm voice interrupted my thoughts. Maybe the song doesn't mean ANYTHING, it said. Thus reassured, I rolled over and went back to sleep.
Turns out I probably wasn't that far off.