Whomever has known The Auteurs certainly knows who Luke Haines is. His most recent project is called “Black Box Recorder,” an exquisite group formed with sublime vocalist Sara Nixey and John Moore (an ex-Jesus & Mary Chain member). Luke Haines is one of the most complex, if not twisted, personas to come onto the music scene. He is one of those artists that has made that fascinating combination of accessible and even sweet melodies with sometimes violent and often perverse lyrics, an experiment made popular by the likes of The Smiths (and Morrissey continuing with it in his solo career), Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Radiohead. But throughout his three projects (the aforementioned Auteurs, Black Box Recorder, and his one-record concept Baadder Meinhoff), Haines has shown a singular vision that doesn’t let him fall into repeating what others have said before.
Black Box Recorder debuted in 1998, with the highly aclaimed England Made Me. The melodies were sweeter than ever but the lyrics had the same perverse vision that characterizes Haines, dealing with child murder (as in the Auteurs), suicide, dysfunctional homes, and the conflicts of English Middle Class in general.
The Facts of Life, which should see an American release (why hasn’t it?), keeps walking the same path as England Made Me, with influences from Air, Pulp, James, and The Smiths, but with more complexity. Also the lyrics changed, from adolescent problems to relationships, upper class situations, and all of them treated with the same wicked vision of England Made Me. The best tracks are “The Art of Driving,” Weekend,” “The English Motorway System” (this reviewer’s personal fave), “Sex Life,” “Straight Live,” and “The Deverell Twins.”
In short, this album, though still an import, is worth every single penny and is one of 2000’s classics.
Written by Pekky Marquez.