Flash and the Pan was Flash and the Pan's 1978 debut album release. The album covers differed between the Australian, the international and United States, and UK releases (UK pictured). The track "And The Band Played On (Down Among the Dead Men)" — about the sinking of the Titanic — was released as a UK single, reaching No. 54 in September 1978 . "Hey St. Peter" was released as a single in the United States in 1979, and reached number 76 on Billboard Hot 100.
Reviews of Flash and the Pan’s 1978 self-titled album are ambivalent about the vocal style and lyrics, fascinated by the weirdness, but upbeat and sometimes glowing in their overall assessment. Alan Niester in The Globe and Mail calls the album “surrealistic in its detachment at times,” and “one of the strangest but ultimately finest records to surface in the seventies.” Niester concludes that the album is "the closest thing to a masterpiece we're likely to get this year, and you have to have it." David Fricke in Rolling Stone notes unfavourably the “rampant punning” and “mind games” of the lyrics, but says that the songwriters, Vanda & Young, “never underestimate the simple joy of a good hummable tune.” The same reviewer goes on to say that the album is a “flawlessly executed operetta of applied rock & roll knowledge”  Steve Simels in Stereo Review calls the album a “minor pop masterpiece” but says that the synthesizer sound “verges on Eurodisco, with some tacky New Wave organ.” Simels describes the lyrics as “frankly melodramatic […] declaimed (in the verses) more often than sung.”  But Simels gives up trying to pigeonhole the record with, “Let’s just say that it’s excellent music and let it go at that.” Jon Pareles, writing for Creem says Flash and the Pan’s songs are “incorrigibly catchy” but he earlier notes the detachment of the vocal style and the insincerity of lyrics; like Simels, he counters his own criticism, saying, “[If] You want sincerity, go watch Merv Griffin.”  Simon Frith in Melody Maker factors the experience of Vanda & Young into the album’s “pop mastery, [which is] evident in the hooks, the minor chords, the insidious orchestrations.” When Frith goes on to express doubts about the “bland monotone” of the vocals, saying that it “adds to the joke, but I’m not sure it adds to the pleasure,” he later adds, “But then I’m still listening to this LP, and Vanda and Young may be cleverer than I think, and make easy listening out of this robotic sound."
Reviews compared Flash and the Pan’s debut album to the group 10CC, albeit “early 10CC, before they took themselves seriously,”  and “10CC gone maniac.”  Alan Niester adds more comparisons: “a hungover Lou Reed” and “Tom Waits with a Jack the Ripper fetish.” Jon Pareles says the music is arranged “Brian Eno-style.”  David Fricke notes the “shameless pirating” of The Kinks' You Really Got Me on the song, “The Man Who Knew the Answer,” and compares the vocal narrative in “California” to that in The Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B” – the result sounding like “an outtake from David Bowie’s Low."