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Black Box Recorder | Facts of Life | review | indie | rock | Lollipop

Black Box Recorder

The Facts of Life (Jetset)
by Jamie Kiffel

In a land of overstarched tea rooms, sex drives stifled by wool raincoats, mayonnaise and cheese sandwiches and barely enough channels to keep things bland, Black Box Recorder makes its pitch in the language of the English: Politely and acceptably. Just don't miss the words.

With a sweet, soft delivery fit for Knightsbridge, Sarah Nixey lilts ironically about the troublesome parts of life - the messy ones, love and death. "Don't think a big accelerator is a man's best friend," she sings in "The Art of Driving," a catchy allegory for slowing down a fast lover. On "Weekend," the band explores the awkward transition from a night of wild spreeing into a morning uncertain of its boundaries, where, lying on the floor, "careful not to touch, we're drunk enough." And in "Gift Horse," we discover "they're digging up human remains in Notting Hill." Polite, charming Notting Hill has bodies to find. Herein lies the theme of this disc: Beneath the clean sheets and twice-boiled potatoes of respectable, societal convention, there are plenty of human stains. What makes this disc so interesting is, instead of wailing about blood and anguish, Black Box Recorder stuffs the feelings and thoughts of messy, real people through the very fine mesh of English gentility. Gentle, moody and powdery vocals over a plush tapestry of guitars, light synth and snare, weave a thick warp of easily listenable music with sardonic lyrics about dating, living "straight life... in a tin on top of the wardrobe," and following instructions for perfection, being "part of the plan." We'll all "make the best of English weather," Nixey sings on "Gift Horse." Spoken like a taste bud accustomed to warm beer and poached eggs, she asks, "Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned brutality?" That would be Sid Vicious' tastebud, visiting Mum's for Sunday brunch. Cloaked in social convention and pressed whites, it's all right here, perfect for fooling your guests while slicing the ham with a two-sided knife. But don't forget to double-think it the next time they say the pudding is "very interesting." It's all in the words, nothing in the protocol.
(67 Vestry St. New York, NY 10013)


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