Black Box Recorder – Passionoia
Available on CD
Out on CD.
Passionoia is the third and final album by British pop band Black Box Recorder, released in 2003. Black Box Recorder were Sarah Nixey, Luke Haines (of The Auteurs), and John Moore (formerly of The Jesus and Mary Chain).
“”Being Number One” is a Blur-ry lark listing perks of fame: “Triumphant return to the hometown/ Treated with love and respect/ A special school assembly/ Before, they would have broken my neck.” On “The New Diana”, the band achieves accidental poignancy, even as the song’s narrator is a ditz calmly listing her qualifications for the post of the next English Rose. “Andrew Ridgeley” mocks celebrity in general by dredging up the lesser half of Wham! for exaggerated worship. Haines even finds time to riff on his status as the band’s ventriloquist, having Sarah Nixey intone the lyric, “This is Sarah Nixey talking.”
Passionoia is just esoteric enough to pleasantly fluster (go decipher “GSOH Q.E.D.”, a pursed-lips romp through newspaper personals). But it’s also wickedly smart; if you think intelligence in indie lyrics must come at the expense of coherence, take in a couple of these impeccably linear narratives. The arrangements, meanwhile, are Haines’ usual fare– deceptively cute, a tad on the lazy side, but always memorable. The funniest thing about Black Box Recorder has always been that, embodying all things British, they end up sounding French. This paradox is in full effect on Passionoia: Blippier numbers seem informed by Air, and chord progressions borrow from disco-era Gainsbourg. If you confronted Luke Haines about it, he’d probably chalk it up to situationism and Guy Debord and free-floating signifiers. Or maybe he’d just say fuck it and kill you.” – The Quietus