Artists who harbor ambitions that outstrip their talent often try to pre-empt accusations of pretentiousness by hiding behind surface ironies. Luke Haines called his first rock band the Auteurs, thus placing quotation marks around whatever they produced, which was mostly literary-minded rock descended from the Bowie-Reed school of decadent narcissism.

The Auteurs’ success was limited by a failure to get specific. Each of the group’s albums took off on a different musical tangent, so if you liked one of them you may not have liked any of the others. Haines has since narrowed his priorities, first with a solo project, Baader-Meinhof, and now with Black Box Recorder, whose second album, “The Facts of Life,” has given him his first top-20 single.

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