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Passionoia (2003)

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Learn more about Passionoia:

Format: CD
Sku: 60610931
UPC: 827954037629
UPC 14: 00827954037629
Release Date: 9/2/2003
See more in Pop

Song Listing

Disc 1
Song Title
1. School Song, The ~ Black Box Recorder
2. GSOH Q.E.D. ~ Black Box Recorder
3. British Racing Green ~ Black Box Recorder
4. Being Number One ~ Black Box Recorder
5. New Diana, The ~ Black Box Recorder
6. These Are The Thing ~ Black Box Recorder
7. Andrew Ridgley ~ Black Box Recorder
8. When Britain Refused To Sing ~ Black Box Recorder
9. Girls Guide For The Modern Diva ~ Black Box Recorder
10. I Ran All The Way Home ~ Black Box Recorder
Black Box Recorder's eagerly-awaited third record Passionoia is an even likelier contender and a much more uptempo affair than previous albums, set to catapult them one way or another into the realms of genuine, urbane pop phenomena. Subjects tackled are as diverse as school, mating, er, school-mating and dating, pop stardom and revolution, Andrew Ridgely and Princess Diana. So no change there then.

"As ever, BBR's absinthe-flavoured acid drops give you a great deal more to suck on than the rest of pop's confectionery selection.  Uncut

Album Notes and Credits

Notes & Personnel Info
Muze PNote Black Box Recorder: Sarah Nixey (vocals); Gilbert, John Moore, Luke Haines.
Muze PNote Producers: Black Box Recorder, Pete Hofmann.
Muze PNote One thing Black Box Recorder has going for them is that one needn't "get" them in order to enjoy the records they make. They work on many levels. On the cover of Passionoia, bikini-clad singer Sarah Nixey blissfully reclines poolside on a sunny day with a drink in hand. A lifeless body floats in that pool. For those who don't realize it's a reference to a party gone wrong that was thrown by English television celebrity Michael Barrymore, it still alludes to what can be expected from the record: Increasingly ornate arrangements as a significant move toward making contemporary dance-pop, but, as always, a fly is in the ointment. Just the same, one needn't consider whether Nixey is being personal or ironic when she confesses her love for Wham!'s other half in "Andrew Ridgley"; on a purely musical level, it's a heavenly pop song akin to Saint Etienne, though lyrical elements that follow make it more like that group's wicked stepsister. John Moore and Luke Haines continue to write the group's songs with themes about childhood, English culture, and observations of the mundane aspects of adult life -- and their knives haven't dulled in the least. (Come to think about it, they're often not writing about mundane aspects; they just have a way of making them seem that way, which comes across doubly so, since the songs are filtered through Nixey's iciness.) Black Box Recorder have developed a great deal across their three studio albums. If England Made Me was their stark guitar record and The Facts of Life was their frozen electronic-pop record, then Passionoia is their full-blown dance-pop album -- full of buoyant arrangements, meaty rhythms, and glitter-specked choruses. It's just as full-bodied and upfront as "Child Psychology" is sparse and distant. A greater combination of accessibility and subversion would be nearly impossible to imagine. ~ Andy Kellman

Engineer: Pete Hofmann

Technical Info

Music Release Date Release Date : 03/16/2010
Music Original Release Date Original Release Date : 2003
Music CatalogId Catalog ID : OLI376
Music Label Name Label : One Little Indian
Music Number of Discs Number of Discs : 1
Music Studio or Live Studio/Live : Studio
Music Mono or Stereo Mono/Stereo : Stereo
Music SPAR code SPAR Code : n/a
Music UPC UPC : 00827954037629

Professional Reviews

Rolling Stone (10/16/03, p.88)
- 3 stars out of 5 - "...Black Box Recorder are still on the case, making sardonic art pop with juicy melodies and nasty wit..."

Magnet (11/03, pp.86-8)
- "...Songwriters Haines and John Moore are adept at crafting melodramatic pop hooks while Nixey's breathy vocals do justice to this clever pop noir..."

CMJ (8/18/03, p.6)
- "...This disc will slap you silly with its bitter English fervor..."

Pitchfork 8 of 10
Passionoia is just esoteric enough to pleasantly fluster (go decipher "GSOH Q.E.D.", a pursed-lips romp through newspaper personals). But it's also wickedly smart; if you think intelligence in indie lyrics must come at the expense of coherence, take in a couple of these impeccably linear narratives. The arrangements, meanwhile, are Haines' usual fare-- deceptively cute, a tad on the lazy side, but always memorable. The funniest thing about Black Box Recorder has always been that, embodying all things British, they end up sounding French. This paradox is in full effect on Passionoia: Blippier numbers seem informed by Air, and chord progressions borrow from disco-era Gainsbourg.


BBR are as ever the enigmatic three piece led by the honey-voiced Sarah Nixey, and backed by cynicism's own Gilbert and Sullivan, John Moore and Luke Haines. The band appeared fully-formed at the start of 1998 and have released two albums to date. The trio's debut, the brutish and bleak England Made Me (more of an accusation than a boast) packed more gall into its 37 minutes than most bands manage in a career and spawned the single Child Psychology which was banned from national radio due to the line 'Life is unfair/Kill yourself or get over it'. The stunning follow-up entitled The Facts Of Life - which seemed to inhabit a funky netherworldhalfway between Air and (a less-stoned) Velvet Underground - saw the band performing the Top Twenty title track on Top Of The Pops and a nation cowering behind a collective settee. Black Box Recorder said at the time that it was their most flamboyant ambition to make a second album that actually sells well and so it came to pass.

Haines and Moore are two of the best British songwriters of the last decade and possibly the only men who can write with a sneer. Together they provide the idyllic musical backdrop for Sarah Nixey, the Vera Lynn of modern warfare. Indeed the pair have said that they "like the idea of writing songs for disturbing, disturbed people and getting our friends to sing them". Now, more than ever, pay attention to those lyrics.

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