Home Read Classic Album Review: Black Box Recorder | The Facts of Life

Classic Album Review: Black Box Recorder | The Facts of Life

The abyss never seemed as inviting as it does in this British supergroup's songs.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Nobody makes gloom and doom sound prettier than the Brits — Nick Drake, Belle and Sebastian, The Cure … the list goes on. But they don’t come prettier — or darker — than noir-popsters Black Box Recorder, formed by Auteurs leader Luke Haines, Jesus and Mary Chainer John Moore and sweetly sinister siren Sarah Nixey.

Their debut England Made Me served up murder, suicide, kidnapping and plane crashes in luscious trip-hoppy attire. Followup The Facts of Life delivers another twisted batch of poison-pen letters, sealed with a kiss and smuggled from the asylum. “They’re digging up human remains … in our back garden,” Nixey coos coolly on Gift Horse, channelling Nico, one of The Stepford Wives and the girls from Heavenly Creatures simultaneously. Even when they aren’t bloody as a penny dreadful, Facts of Life’s songs are no less unsettling — The Art of Driving gives a new meaning to auto-eroticism, The Deverell Twins is a creepy tale of one woman’s brotherly love and the title cut makes puberty seem even more perverting than it really is. But most disturbing of all is the way Nixey’s airy ingenue vocals and the band’s post-millennial torch balladry turn even the darkest dispatches into breezy, intoxicating pop. The abyss never seemed so inviting.