gullbuy music review

Black Box Recorder




One Little Indian


Black Box Recorder Passionoia CD cover'Passionoia' is the third album by one of four Luke Haine fronted outfits. Luke Haines is the leader of the enduring Autuers. He formed Baader Meinhof, who put out one record in 1999. He also has out two full lengths under his own name. Personally, I have always favored his work as Black Box Recorder.

Sara Nixley perfectly captures the cynicism of Luke Haine's lyrics. Her deadpan voice could be linked to the styling's of Ladytron and Lali Puna, though the music has much more in common with Saint Etienne.

The CD starts off with The School Song. A schoolyard cheer of "black box recorder" provides the background for a bubbly synth part and beat; the first of several times this record reminds me of the song Touch by early 80s Zoo Records band Lori & the Chameleons.

My favorite song is next: GSOH Q.E.D. GSOH is a dating site term for good sense of humor/humour. Q.E.D. stands for quid erat demonstratum, Latin for 'that which I was trying to prove/demonstrate.' It is typically the last thing you write in a logical proof, when you have proved what you set out to prove. GSOH Q.E.D. has a big chorus and rapid fire verses where Sara Nixley recites many different personal ads.

The song gives a nod to Burt Bacharach in the beginning, with the lyric "What do you get if you fall in love, a pin to burst your X's bubble, a diamond ring, brand new trouble, from passionate to paranoid, will I fall in love again?" At that point the chorus starts with "GSOH Q.E.D." and Sara recites the ads that tease your ears in the verses.

British Racing Green and Being Number One are next. Both are good songs, but I like parts of them more than each as a whole. The New Diana is a loving song about Princess Diana. It was great lyrics and a memorable melody. The New Diana exemplifies the way Black Box Recorder have refined their craft. The song has all the cleverness that Luke Haines always sticks between the lines of lyrics, but does not rely on shock or the depressing realism of early BBR tracks like Child Psychology.

These Are The Things is the song that reminds me most of the 80s band Lori & the Chameleons. The background vocals are right out of the song Touch. These Are The Things is very Saint Etienne in sound as well.

Andrew Ridgley is a real jewel on 'Passionoia.' It is a song in worship of the Wham! member that went into race car driving. The lyrics capture youthful idol worship evolving into adult values. Great song!

When Britain Refused to Sing is most memorable for the bridge in the song, during which the pace changes and the song becomes menacing (and much more interesting!). If they built a whole song around that part I like it very much - but that is part of the joy of being a Luke Haines fan. He does things as he feels like doing them. That is why Black Box Recorder seem to work so well. Luke Haines, John Moore, and Sara Nixley appear to be on the same wavelength.

'Passionoia' is a strong LP that shows growth without compromise. Super disc!

---Carl, April 8, 2003