Customer Reviews


10 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subversive lullabies for the 21st century lifestyle; a perfect pop album
The Facts of Life was really the next logical step forward for Black Box Recorder following that great debut album, England Made Me, with the band really taking the template developed on songs like Girl Singing in the Wreckage, Child Psychology, Kidnapping an Heiress and Swinging to the next possible level. As a result of this, the sound of the album suggests an almost...
Published on 28 Feb 2008 by Jonathan James Romley

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not anywhere as good as "England Made Me"
This album is very thin. Like a previous reviewer said -- each song contains an excellent idea but the ideas never seem to be fleshed out. I own every CD Luke Haines has made, and this is his low point. But still, you could do a lot worse than buy it.
Published on 12 July 2000


Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subversive lullabies for the 21st century lifestyle; a perfect pop album, 28 Feb 2008
This review is from: The Facts Of Life (Audio CD)
The Facts of Life was really the next logical step forward for Black Box Recorder following that great debut album, England Made Me, with the band really taking the template developed on songs like Girl Singing in the Wreckage, Child Psychology, Kidnapping an Heiress and Swinging to the next possible level. As a result of this, the sound of the album suggests an almost reinvention, as the band develop a tighter sound that trades those once prevalent spidery guitar lines and sparse arrangements for drum machines and synthesised strings. As a result, Black Box Recorder become a band that are almost pop in the traditional sense, with Haines and Moore creating some gorgeous melodies and intoxicating, evocative lyrics, whilst the vocal delivery of Sarah Nixey is much more confident and beguiling, though with that slightly detached cynicism still (thankfully) intact.

As the other reviews point out, it's not quite pop... but at the same time, its perfect pop... or pop music as it should sound in the twenty-first century. The production, this time assisted by Pete Hoffman as opposed to Phil Vinal, goes for the same minimal approach employed on their first album, but with the influence of electronic music starting to become apparent too. This would be taken even further on their third album, Passionoia, which really is pop music in the truest sense of the word. The album is, for me, close to perfect - or at least, my idea of what makes a perfect album - with the band presenting us with a series of themes that are analysed with the same sniping, darkly comic contempt that has been a huge part of Haines' past work, both with Black Box Recorder, and with his other projects, The Auteurs, Christie Malry and Baader Meinhof. As one of the other commentators noted; this is really one of the best and perhaps most unappreciated pop albums of the decade.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's just a nature walk..., 4 Nov 2007
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Facts Of Life (Audio CD)
Released in 2000, 'The Facts of Life' was the second album from Black Box Recorder (featuring the lovely Sarah Nixey, the dastardly Luke Haines & the decadent John Moore) and to date this is probably their masterpiece (though debut 'England Made Me' is almost as great & the neglected 'Passionoia' equally excellent...though probably too clever. Maybe people thought BBR had made their point? & perhaps the TV talent show/state of pop themed 'Being Number One' and 'Andrew Ridgley' were slightly obvious targets?) Fingers crossed for the rumoured fourth album from Black Box Recorder; in the meantime, The Facts of Life...

Penned by Haines and Moore, The Facts of Life advances on the dark climes of England Made Me - Weekend references The Specials' Friday Night, Saturday Morning AND the book/film that referenced (Saturday Night, Sunday Morning), and manages to take its title from one of Jean-Luc Godard's most enjoyable films (autogeddon, cannibalism, communism, intertextual pop references). Weekend captures the whole life of consumption thing, the allure of capitalist hedonimism that Gang of Four once sang about ("Please give me evenings and weekends")- Cashmachine macht frei, if you like. The album opens with single The Art of Driving, which joins the ranks of Ballard/Crash themed pop songs (see: Warm Leatherette, Pull Up to the Bumper, Cars, Fly on the Windscreen...) and probably isn't that far away from Godard's Weekend. The clashing vocals between Moore and Nixey are fun, and the guitar here kind of a glam take on that Throbbing Gristle sometimes employed. I come from a world where proper guitar solos' depress...

The car theme continues with The English Motorway System, BBR's Autobahn and the kind of song that Morrissey should be writing, and probably only MES (apart from Haines/Moore) could pen these days. The Facts of Life is packed with sublime pop, like Haines' solo albums there are synths etc that some may object to (whilst pining for New Wave), it's cleverer than most listeners, and some great harmonics/backing vocals (check the comclusion of the title track when the boys come in, or the opening of Straight Life, or the distant moans in the English Motorway System). & people go on about Thom Yorke, what gives? May Queen is almost BBR folk, guitar that reminds you of the Velvets, of when Johnny Marr was good, or some Auteurs. The gothic themes apparent in the World of Haines, from the cover of Luke Haines is Dead, to After Murder Park, to Unsolved Child Murder relate to this one; & imagine if Kate Nash had a song like this! She'd be listenable then!!!

Sex Life probably should have been a single, though the title and boys/girls together lyrics probably would have been too much, and the record label that put this record out didn't do much of a job with it. Odd that The Facts of Life came highly in Critics Polls of 2000, yet Passionia was hardly referenced - I recently read some drivel about how 2000 was rubbish and saved by The Libertines. Hello?...Black Box Recorder, remember them? & is their anything better than the hook/harmony of "...in your dreams" - no, not really. Haines' vocals appear at the start of French Rock'N'Roll, which no doubt alludes back to Serge, BB, Francoise Hardy et al, though sat amusingly against cack like Phoenix, who were in vogue for a quarter of an hour in the early zeroes (the kind of music supermodels smoke to...so "super-cool"). Again, more hooks that a Captain Hook Society facing off a Dr Hook tribute band - The Facts of Life is one of the great pop records of modern times. How often do you get great pop albums? Treasure this one...

The title track scraped in the Top Twenty and resulted in one of those truly odd Top of the Pops performances that included the Associates doing Partyfearstwo, Mark E Smith with Inspiral Carpets, a manic Specials doing Ghost Town, PIL doing Flowers of Romance, & The Smiths doing What Difference Does It Make. The kind of performance that was great, partly as it confounded both audiences at home and studio. That would come in my top ten TOTP performances alongside the obligatory Starman and New Order murdering Blue Monday...I guess Straight Life is the kind of thing Damon Albarn failed to write around The Great Escape, advancing on Ideal Home from the debut, this might get the same critique that Albarn and Mike Leigh did. But I think of the serial killer from Se7en telling Brad Pitt's cop how he envied his life - the roots of Straight Life are probably both In Every Dream Home a Heartache and Shangri La...

Gift Horse returns to the territory of May Queen, a feast of jangling guitars (Haines & Moore have their roots in the C-86 era, I point you to The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Servants) and sad synths combine, as Sarah Nixey sings of human remains being found. The cover and artwork are fantastic by the way, though shame Amazon don't show the white outer sleeve cover with that iconic picture of BBR, especially Moore in a dapper white suit, looking a bit Under the Volcano. The Deverell Twins continues the folky theme, and taps back into the dark English seam apparent in the World of Haines, from Child Brides to All the English Devils, to Freddie Mills is Dead, to Tombstone. The keyboards feel a bit like the soundtrack to something like Get Carter too, or John Barry after too much Peter Ackroyd and Colin Wilson. Goodnight Kiss is the gorgeous kiss off to this post-millennium classic, the fact it sounds not far from Goldfrapp or Morcheeba is probably accidental - though I should remind you that the title track was based on Honey to the B by Billie (aka TV's Billie Piper, star of Dr Who and that awful programme where she wears lots of nice underwear). I guess I think this is pop, then again, I think the same of certain records by Denim, The Fall, Jack and Super Furry Animals and no one agrees with me there...In all, an English classic and one no ideal home should be without; here's to the return of Black Box Recorder...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite album of the year, 4 Dec 2000
By A Customer
As an American visiting the UK last May, I made sure to pick up the new music that wasn't available in the US. (Why the hell can't you get James' Millionaires here still anyway?) -- either way, Black Box Recorder's "Facts of Life" became my soundtrack for the train ride back from Leeds to London... and I have been in love with it ever since. I can literally (and I have) listen to it for many weeks on end, and not desire to hear anything else. Just the PERFECT mixture of intelligent preceptions of youth and showing without telling how so many emotions and feelings that "grown-ups" have are the exact same as the childish dramas that are protrayed in the lyrics. The music is delicate but still pressing. This goes down in my book as the best album of 2000 for me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seductive Pop, 20 Jan 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Facts Of Life (Audio CD)
Black Box Recorder's 2000 album release The Facts of Life was the second of their three albums (sandwiched between England Made Me and Passionoia). Soundwise, the album is (as might perhaps be expected) somewhere between that of EMM (which was more guitar-based) and Passionoia (more electronic/keyboard-based), providing a beautifully laid back, but still sophisticated, blend of guitar and keyboards. Over the top of this sound are Sarah Nixey's very distinctive, near-spoken, sultry vocals. BBR's appeal lies essentially in their superficial sugary sound being underpinned by an apparently more acerbic, and perhaps even sinister, intent.

For me, The Facts of Life is superior to the England Made Me debut and broadly on a par with Passionoia, which contains the highest proportion of up-tempo commercial material that BBR produced. Songwriters Luke Haines and John Moore are (for Haines, certainly) here relatively restrained lyrically compared to (for example) earlier Auteurs material, but still provide some clever touches and memorable lines. Whether it be the poignant 'onset of adolescence' story told in the album title song or the witty observations on jack-knifed lorries and emotional detachment made in the excellent The English Motorway System, there are enough little gems to keep us amused. Other standout songs are the opener The Art of Driving (where driving is again used as a metaphor for romance) and Straight Life (a tongue-in-cheek recommendation of conformity - 'keep your mouth shut, say hello to the neighbours'). Also worthy of mention is the song The Deverell Twins which provides an unusual and macabre take on the real-life drowning of two young boys in the Thames during Victorian times.

Black Box Recorder were, for me, never quite in the same league as Haines' Auteurs, whose sound was simply more invigorating and whose lyrics were more wonderfully caustic. Nevertheless, an album (and a band) well worth listening to.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful..., 18 May 2000
By A Customer
This is their second album, very similar to their debut album 'England Made Me'. 'Facts of Life' is certainly just as good. It contain some of their best songs: "Goodnight kiss", "Art of driving", "English motorway system" and the title track. Although, overall as an album, it is not as attractive as the first, but very hard to tell the difference. I often compare their music with "Mercury Rev", "Air", "Pulp", "Gomez" and "Radiohead". It is a very peaceful and relaxing album, extremely good when listened to in bed. If you like sad, slow, moody music, this is the album for you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Not anywhere as good as "England Made Me", 12 July 2000
By A Customer
This album is very thin. Like a previous reviewer said -- each song contains an excellent idea but the ideas never seem to be fleshed out. I own every CD Luke Haines has made, and this is his low point. But still, you could do a lot worse than buy it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year, 26 Nov 2000
Of all the CDs I bought in 2000, this is the best. It's an absolutely classic pop record from start to finish. In fact, it is exactly what pop music should be about: a shimmering, shiny surface concealing just below, in all its shadowy and revealing depths, the harsh realities of life. With maybe two exceptions, all the songs here are beautifully realised and performed, with lyrics that are by turns clever, funny, heart-wrenchingly true, or all three. Siren-like, they charm you in, then on closer inspection show themselves to be complex, thought-provoking and challenging. Quite simply, it is an astonishing record. If you like pop music with even a modicum of intelligence, wit and real emotion, you may not know it yet, but your life is empty without this LP.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best from Luke Haines since "New Wave", 1 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Beautiful haunting songs sung by Sarah Nixey. If you rated the Auteurs' "New Wave", you must get this. It's superb. Best tracks: "The Deverell Twins", "May Queen". I've listened to this almost to the exclusion of all other music for several weeks. It gets you by your soft bits and holds tight! Buy it now!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All the right ingredients but..., 9 May 2000
By 
It's too thin. Almost every song has a really nice segment but they are always repeated exactly, never expanded on. It is thus in league with the likes of Dubstar, Robbie Williams, maybe the Cardigans. Nice but very forgettable pop songs. At times I even think I'm hearing Jewel... egad! Many of these songs could be remixed and toughened up for sure. Highlites are "The Art of Driving", "The English Motorway System", and the title track. Perhaps Black Box Recorder is striving to make the kind of melodic, mood-setting, modern music that St. Etienne and Pulp bless us with but they fall far short of evoking that depth of emotion. Still, I'll enjoy it for a couple weeks before putting it on the shelf for good.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The facts of..... living with this CD, 31 July 2003
This review is from: The Facts Of Life (Audio CD)
Apart from the strangely off-putting frontcover of the booklet - this dosen't represent the sound that you are graced with, as you press play on your cd player.
The sound is so relaxing- thought provoking (if your in that frame of mind!) - but not pop as you know it it's much,much more.
Best advice i can give you is to listen to it yourself and i guaranty you won't be dis-statisfied.
Lay back, listen and just be drawn into the calming sound that is 'Black Box Recorder'
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Facts Of Life (CD2)
The Facts Of Life (CD2) by Black Box Recorder (Audio CD)
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews