I first heard Black Box Recorder on a pre-release sampler for 'England Made Me'. My friend was a journalist, and used to get advance copies of stuff he liked. We were both huge Auteurs fans, so the prospect of a new project by La Haine had him putting in a request for a tape at the first opportunity. The tape featured about six songs, and by the time we'd got to 'Uptown Top Ranking', the fourth or so on the tape, we were weeping with laughter. Don't let anyone tell you that Haines has no sense of humour, as this album has it in spades. The music is claustrophobic and airless, but Sarah Nixey comes across as a petulant drama-school teenager delivering Morrissey lyrics. I still giggle even now when I hear the line from 'Child Psychology' about the "plastic Christmas tree that played 'Silent Night' over and over again". The whole record just drips with loathing and sarcasm, like a stalker sing-talking the back catalogue of Saint Etienne.
Special mentions too for the crisp, beautiful 'Swinging' and 'It's Only The End Of The World', which are amongst the best songs that Haines has ever written.
Cold genius, delivered deadpan.