The white flag is usually regarded as a sign of surrender and it is perhaps a little ironic that the song called ‘White Flag’ appeared on Dog Detachment’s final studio album ‘Barriers’. They had gone through the rough punk of ‘The Last Laugh’, the maturing, ‘Fathoms Of Fire’ and then they really pulled it all together in ‘Barriers’ probably their most commercial album. But sadly this was a barrier that they hit as there was to be no more from the band other than the essential Retro Fresh collection ‘Best Kept Secrets’.
‘White Flag’ combines the pop sensibilities they displayed on ‘Fathoms Of Fire’ but still shows their punk roots. Mike Adams had left the band and it was essentially the Armstrong brothers (Brian, Terry & Alan) who continued flying the (white) flag. They drafted in Sharon and Anne Armstrong (presumably their sisters) for backing vocals. It was just a pity that they were Armstrongs and the person leaving the band was Adams. If it had been the other way round they could have called themselves The Adams Family.
‘White Flag’ is a melancholic rock track with slightly ethereal vocals bringing a sort of darkness to the poppy guitar sound. Sharon and Anne’s vocal are reminiscent of some of the 80’s UK Indie bands like The Marine Girls, Talulah Gosh, early Bananarama and early Everything But The Girl. While the lyrics could be viewed as being about lost love and regrets, it could equally be about the demise of the band and their relationship with record labels. Lines like ‘Where did we go wrong, where did it all fall to pieces’ and ‘Your promises made, I know they’ll all empty’ would apply to both scenarios.
Either way, this track was one by a band maturing and showing great potential to go on to great things, but fame continued to elude the Dogs and they went their separate ways.
Where to find it:
Best Kept Secrets – Dog Detachment (2001) Retrofresh, freshcd115