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Facts of Life

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 20, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Black Box Recorder are an enigma. A three piece comprised of the haunting and fragile-voiced Sarah Nixey, Auteurs henchman Luke Haines and absinthe importer (& former Jesus & MaryChain) John Moore. Stylistally, the band have catapulted themselves into som

The first Black Box Recorder album, 1998's England Made Me, was originally conceived by Auteurs and Baader Meinhof frontman Luke Haines as a typically baleful response to the cultural and political hysteria--respectively, Britpop and Tony Blair--then gripping Britain. Recorded with the help of former Jesus & Mary Chain drummer John Moore and singer Sarah Nixey, it did for Britpop roughly what the film Carrie did for the senior prom. The Facts of Life, the follow-up, maintains the withering glare but fixes it this time on the personal. The songs here obsess with unnerving clarity and mordant wit on the banal, cruel details of human relationships and are narrated perfectly by Nixey. Where her perfectly English-accented whisper infused England Made Me with the air of a bored aristocrat finding contemptuous amusement in the misery of others, on The Facts of Life she has located an edge of taunting viciousness all the more diabolical for being so understated. The tunes, as ever, are sweet and insidious, perhaps best thought of as Saint Etienne turned feral. Highlights on an album full of them are "English Motorway" and "The Art of Driving"--BBR triumphantly reclaiming the American rock & roll prerogative of the road song for their damp, claustrophobic homeland. The Facts of Life is a masterpiece. --Andrew Mueller

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Art Of Driving
  2. Weekend
  3. The English Motorway System
  4. May Queen
  5. Sex Life
  6. French Rock 'N' Roll
  7. The Facts Of Life
  8. Straight Life
  9. Gift Horse
  10. The Deverell Twins
  11. Goodnight Kiss
  12. Start As You Mean To Go On
  13. Brutality

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 2001
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Jet Set Records
  • ASIN: B00005AKF5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,130 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anthony R. Strain on July 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
You've heard of mood music? The Facts of Life is mood music with a nasty little secret. Every track is a potential conspiracy theory, every little sweetly vicious turn of phrase by Sarah Nixey a dreamscape of uncertainty, a generous slice of middle ground between the the strangely familiar and the easily contemptible. When Nixey sings "Weekend" you start to suspect creepy crawly minions under the dustcloths and throw rugs of your most deeply private sectors. This is a sucker punch of a record that knocks you off your feet and doesnt let you up until you've reevaluated everything about every relationship you've ever had.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Thompson on May 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Black Box Recorder's second album is a much sunnier affair than their bleak debut album"England Made Me." While they no longer have any songs about insanity and dead children they are still writing some of the sharpest pop music around using deadpan observation.
First single "The Facts of Life" has become a minor hit know in England and deservedly so. It is at the same time uplifting and depressing in equal proportions. Lyrically it deals with the pains of adolescense but its honesty and truthfulness is what makes it so special. "No one gets through life without being hurt" and "it's just the facts of life/there's no masterplan" are good examples of the material being dealt with. Musically the song is quite dark. The harmonies are quite lovely as they gradually build over top of each other towards the end.
Elsewhere Black Box Recorder hits the mark by constantly mixing clever lyrics with the darkly affecting tunes. "The Art of Driving" satirizes a sexual relationship using driving as a metaphor while "May Queen" deals with youthful romance. Other great tunes include "Sex Life" and "French Rock N'Roll."
Sarah Nixxey's vocals are a welcome breath of fresh air. While she has a traditional "girly" voice she is not nearly as abrassive as many singers. She sometimes uses her honeyed vocals to add a decieving feeling of comfort to otherwise bleak surroundings.
Black Box Recorder's second album is certainly one of the best of 2000. The closest comparaisons can be drawn to Pulp, but musically this is darker than "This is Hardcore." Lyrically speaking BBR's frontman Luke Haines is possibly even more brutally honest and observational than Pulp's Jarvis. Any group that can open a song with the line "they're digging up human remains in Notting Hill" and make the rest sound lovely is definitley worth investigating.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Blane on June 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Black Box Recorder fascinated me from the moment I saw the video for "child psychology". They are probably one of the most interesting bands releasing music. "The Facts of Life", the latest offering after the simply superb debut "England Made Me", did not disappoint me. We start the album with the almost tongue and cheek sexiness (the la-da-da's of The Art of Driving), move into a beautiful lament (The English Motorway System), and rock out with instant popness on other tracks (Sex Life, The Facts of Life). The whole album is rather great, and surpasses their debut. My favourite tracks are The Gift Horse and The English Motorway System. The bonus tracks make you wonder why they weren't included in the whole. "Goodnight Kiss" is a beautiful song about that nervous moment before you lean in after a long date. Highly suggested.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William E. May on October 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Excellent, excellent music.... As lots of folks have said already, this indeed sounds like a slightly sinister St. Etienne, with perhaps a bit of Trembling Blue Stars thrown in...but with a pretty distinctive personality of its own, too. Has anyone else noticed how much Sarah Nixey can sound like Olivia Newton John, by the way (particularly on "The Art of Driving")? A-OK with me. On the mildly negative side, there's the occasional embarrassing lyric here and there, but on the whole they're lovely and a big leap forward from the still awfully good first album.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Little Old Me on September 11, 2003
Format: Audio CD
"The Facts of Life", Black Box Recorder's second album, follows suite in their amazing debut of twisted nursery rhymns, "England Made Me". This is certainly an album to be cherished in one's cd collection - the lyrics are clever and provocative, the music is soothing and intelligent and the mixture can leave the listener awe struck.
In this album, the band has matured a bit. Their storytelling can deliver a much appreciated sense of nostalgia for one's own teenage years - after all, who doesn't remember their boyfriend/girlfriend pushing the relationship one step further than you were ready to go, that almost too-cozy encounter with your highschool best friend or the introspective of a child trying to live as an adult.
Lead singer, Nixey's voice sounds almost like a submissive siren, as she faintly sings anthemns about teenage sexuality and desire. Haines and Moore push their music writing even further, keeping the low tones of instruments and mixing in small beats and rythmns that add a certain liveliness to their melodies. Some of the radio-worthy songs, "Art of Driving" and "Facts of Life", have a good combonation of indie rock/folk with a touch of pop, at the same time expelling the requirements of any particular genre. For those who appreciate rock/pop and alternative music, this will fit in easy to your music collection, though there is enough to interest electronica and folk fans alike.
Out of all the one hit wonders I'm subjected to each morning of my commute - its really nice to have a cd that one can appreciate all the way through.
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