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Black Box Recorder
by: Sun-J

Passionoia is album number three from Britain's resident cynical lyricist Luke Haines. Haines is also the captain of Autuers, and Baader Meinhof, whom put out one record back in '99. In addition to all this musical whoring, Haines also has a couple albums out under his own name. Though, of all the groups, including his solo deal, Black Box Recorder seems to be the most perfect fit. Plumy-voiced, actress-turned-singer Sara Nixley is the perfect compliment to the cynicism and ironic lyrics, while third member John Moore is the square to Haines' polygon. Formed in 1998, their debut album, England Made Me was a strict dance record attempt. Their follow-up, Facts of Life, merged adolescent sexuality to R&B and would have been a major score had it not been for faulty promotion due to Haines referring to his label in an interview as “f*&^#%g cunts.”

The album opens up with “School Song” where Sara Nixey takes on the role of a principal, “You need a bit of toughening up, you're weak and spoilt, look at you…” while a choir of children chant, “Black Box Recorder.” Standout track, “The New Diana” paints a portrait of surreal pleasure with Nixey lulling us into fantasy, “lying on a yacht reading photo magazines..” “Andrew Ridgeley” almost seems as a potential gay anthem, while Haines utilizes the controversial topic to slip in the vicariousness going on with his ventriloquist type gig in the band as Nixey sings, “This is Sara Nixey Talking.” “GSOH QED,” is an acronym heavy ode to newspaper personals, while “These are the Things” cleverly manipulates mundane into pleasure while evoking depression over a gorgeous melody. “Being Number One,” is an ironic twist of fame, “Triumphant return to the hometown, treated with love and respect, a special school assembly, before, they would have broken my neck.”

Black Box Recorder at times seem flat or dull, yet the impetuousness of Haines combined with his witty, jackass type lyricism is the perfect anecdote to any type of boredom. If you're into euro-pop this is a smart listen, but if you're not, then at least give the lyrics of this album a read. Keep in mind, Haines once lyricised a proposal to Valerie Solanas (attempted Andy Warhol assassin).


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