venerdì 25 febbraio 2011

Black Box Recorder "England Made Me"

Come faremmo senza il nostro Luke Haines. Sempre in veste sarcastica e oscura eccolo nel progetto BBR....e noi siamo come sempre in estasi! (1999 Jetset)

A side project conceived by The Auteurs' Luke Haines and John Moore, formerly of The Jesus & Mary Chain, England Made Me is an evil pleasure indeed.
Vocalist Sarah Nixey sounds like a head girl captured and brainwashed by the malevolent male duo, made to intone their deadpan, amoral lyrics ("I trapped a spider underneath the glass/I kept it for a week to see how long it would last") over creeping, spidery guitars and the odd, sinister overdub. England Made Me is more darkly comic than chilling in its nihilism ("Life is unfair/Kill yourself or get used to it," sings Nixey on "Child Psychology") while their bleak take on "Uptown Top Ranking" by one hit wonders Althea & Donna is like a photographic negative of the original.
It reflects Haines' perverse obession with 1970s kitsch as does the album cover, a shot of glam-wrestler Adrian Street posing incongruously with his coal miner father. Exposure to that bizarre decade in English culture, he implies, made of him the deformedly ironic creature he is today. (David Stubbs -

England's Black Box Recorder is what My Bloody Valentine might sound like without all the tape loops, ear- splitting amplification, and confounding network of effects gadgets. On second thought, maybe that's a stupid comparison.
The photograph on the cover of England Made Me-- the young girl, sitting up in bed under the covers, looking bored and morbidly introspective-- tells you most everything you need to know about this unhappy English pop band fronted by the Auteurs' Luke Haines.
And, of course, there's the obvious tragic connotations of the moniker Black Box Recorder. The band is named, as I'm sure you're all well aware, after a recording device that captures the final moments of an ill- fated airplane and its crew. We eventually learn, that to the societal malcontents in Black Box Recorder, life is basically an airplane spinning out of control, spiraling toward the ground, and meeting its end in flaming catastrophe.
And England Made Me is their own personal black box recording, in a sense. I mean, what else can they do but record the last desperate cries of their tormented lives before they, too, in the Year 2000, crash and burn out like everyone and everything else.
But while they're still stuck here in this meaningless void known as modern life, I guess the band figured, "Aw, what the heck.
We may as well sign with a hip label and make an album that examines the ontological riddles which complicated our respective childhoods and rendered our subsequent adult lives deeply confusing and unsatisfying." England Made Me is also an anti- tribute to the shame, horror and general degradation that must naturally come with being born and raised in post- Restoration England.
But is this album good, you ask? Well, it isn't bad. In fact, it starts out with the immaculate "Girl Singing in the Wreckage," on which vocalist Sarah Nixey sweetly croons, "My 18th birthday I'll die of boredom/ My private world is smashed wide open." Then we have the undeniably pristine, haunting melodies of the excellent title track. "It's Only the End of the World" epitomizes the twenty- something detachment and their going- through- the- motions view of life at century's end.
The apocalypse is nigh they say, but who really cares? The spontaneous combustion of the Universe could only be an improvement, so sayeth Black Box Recorder.
About midway through the album, though, the song cycle lapses into barely- tolerable redundancy. The album really loses the casual, deliberate momentum it'd been building upon. The sheer simplicity of their approach to songwriting begins backfiring to some degree.
"Life is unfair/ Kill yourself/ Or get over it," goes the chorus to "Child Psychology." Honestly, "Child Psychology" is the most ridiculous, sorry- for- itself disaster of an indie rock song I've heard in a long while.
It's a spoken first- person narrative concerning the stunted intellectual and social development of a particular little shit, and the irreparable damage done by misguided and misinformed parenting. "I stopped talking when I was six years old/ I didn't want anything more to do with the outside world," Nixey deadpans.
And so it goes that these lament- loving Brits just keep churning out more quaint songs about resigned depression. Sample the cynical detachment on "Wonderful Life," and get a load of the mournful "Hated Sunday:" "Close the window/ Draw the blinds/ I can't stand it if the sun shines on Sunday."
Okay, enough is enough with the hollow malaise and paltry middle- class problems already! Try more coffee, guys-- shock treatment, St. John's Wort, Babar bedtime stories, anything.
Yep, after a time, you're just left with empty sorrow and overly reflective gobbledygook over rhythmically- static, lightly- strummed reverb- treated guitar. The same pouty, subdued vocals continually ooze from Nixey's lips.
In fact, Black Box Recorder finally carry the fashionable woe- is- me depression thing way over the edge, and chalk up major demerits for covering Jacques Brel's loathsome pro- suicide sing- along, "Seasons in the Sun."
Black Box Recorder convey a kind of mildly morose but slightly tongue- in- cheek Sylvia Plath- meets- Paul McCartney pop sensibility, with a fairly evident Portishead affectation thrown into the mix.
Singer Sarah Nixey has the type of one- dimensional soft whisper that's certainly pleasant enough to draw you into her world without hope. But soon, you just feel yourself aching for her to begin screaming her dainty lungs out, just to shake up the melancholic monotony a bit.
The childish existential suffering is a just bit more than this reviewer can stomach. (Michael Sandlin -

- Girl Singing In The Wreckage
- England Made Me
- New Baby Boom
- It's Only The End Of The World
- Ideal Home
- Child Psychology
- I C One Female
- Uptown Top Ranking
- Swinging
- Kidnapping An Heiress
- Hated Sunday


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