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Sing, Memory

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Album Review

The solo debut from Black Box Recorder chanteuse Sarah Nixey takes up the extroverted electronic pop trajectory signaled by that beloved band's (evidently) final album, Passionoia, and ventures a good deal further in that direction, emerging as a full-fledged collection of stylish 21st century dance-pop in the vein of Goldfrapp, Dot Allison, and Róisín Murphy. Characteristically, the emphasis is less on "pop" and "dance" than on "style," but Nixey and her collaborators (chief among them James Banbury, a former Auteur and member of the downtempo/IDM outfit InfantJoy) never let setting the right mood interfere with a good hook or a groove — in any event, the album is both impossibly glamorous and immensely pleasurable to listen to. It's divided between dancefloor-ready tracks — the sensational candy-disco single "Strangelove," the similar, slinkier "Beautiful Oblivion," the genially funky "Nothing on Earth," which could easily pass for latter-day Kylie Minogue tune — and more downtempo, slightly trip-hop-inflected material both dark ("Masquerade") and sweet (the electro-romance "When I'm Here with You") and usually somewhere in between — a split which is roughly mapped by the album's two titular halves, each of which has its own spoken preface. Lyrically, Nixey reveals herself to be a good deal more romantic and empathetic than her Black Box Recorder ghostwriters Luke Haines and John Moore, although she still has a touch of their black-humored bite and a similar preoccupation with the dark, twisted aspects of human relationships. Somehow, knowing that Nixey herself is the brain, and not just the lips, behind these lovelorn tales helps to take the edge out of her stiffly proper English enunciation, and in conjunction with a less chilly delivery and the lush, shimmering electronic warmth of the productions, makes Sing, Memory far more likely to melt your heart than leave it shivering. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi


Born: England

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Arch, elegant British pop singer and songwriter Sarah Nixey is best known as the icy-voiced chanteuse of Black Box Recorder, a trio whose combination of melodic sweetness, bleakly cynical social commentary, and electronic pop eclecticism brought them a cult audience and some amount of (British) chart success around the turn of the millennium. Nixey was singing in the folk band Balloon when her bandmates Luke Haines (formerly of the Auteurs) and John Moore (formerly of the Jesus and Mary Chain) proposed...
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Sing, Memory, Sarah Nixey
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