BLACK BOX RECORDER – “Weekend” (Free with Uncut, March 2000)
1998’s “Child Psychology” was an indie gimmick-hit, due to a sharp chorus and Sarah Nixey’s deadly pristine vocals (Hannibal Lecter as Roedean head girl). It was slick, glib stuff, and I didn’t like it much, but “Weekend” is beautiful. Almost nothing’s changed – the music is still minimal clockwork-pop, Nixey’s voice is as cut-glass as before – but Black Box Recorder are cutting deeper nonetheless, and writing superb hooks is only a part of it. Luke Haines’ other band shifted up a gear last year, when he stopped making his anger and frustration the main attraction in his songs and started using it as a malignant background hum: on this evidence, Black Box Recorder are going to make a similar leap with “Weekend”s parent album.

For now, this is the best ‘alternative’ track I’ve heard this year; intelligent, oblique and reserved. The last band to prod mundanity’s surface like this were Frazier Chorus, and Black Box Recorder answer the same question they did – can you turn the absolutely ordinary into extraordinary music? You knew what the answer was, of course, but it’s nice to be reminded like this.