Sunday 5 February 2012

Standard Fare - Out Of Sight, Out Of Town

Album review by Andy L

Ah, the life of a twenty-something, young enough to be fresh to the world, but old enough to have your eyes wide open to its foibles and frustrations; a belligerent battle to keep teenage aspirations alive, and the relentless rush of adult responsibility at arm’s length for as long as possible. This is exactly the predicament Sheffield indie pop charmers Standard Fare find themselves tackling on their second album ‘Out Of Sight, Out Of Town’, so are they throwing in the towel and growing up gracefully? No not particularly, and what a blessing that is, because where would be the fun in that!

Instead over the course of twelve cleverly crafted tracks we’re treated to tales of testosterone and tantrums, tears and tender tête-à-têtes; this is Standard Fare shining a light on the working class ‘Grand Tour’, a coming of age delivered round a framework of casual sex ('Call Me Up'); fractious young lovers ('Bad Temper'); family fall outs ('Half Sister'); and, needless to say, nightclub seductions by lonely housewives who really should know better ('Older Woman')!

In doing so it’s apparent they owe a debt of gratitude to The Smiths. Not so much for the jangly, Marr inspired riffs (though these are prevalent throughout) but more for the down to earth, northern practicality found in the lyrics; where though Morrissey’s homespun, kitchen sink, observations paired wit with a melancholy, desolation, Emma Kupa and Danny How still retain the air of secret romantic dreamers. When on the garage rock fuelled 'Kicking Puddles' How observes: "life's a little tougher than we thought it was" you suspect he means it; when Kupa later asks "Do you ever love somebody with hopeless devotion? Do you feel so much but cant always show your emotion?" you KNOW she does.

The gauges of growth aren't solely restricted to their attentive anecdotes either. In comparison to the scrawny, waif like figure of the first album, Standard Fare have hit the gym, gobbled the steaks and filled out musically. With some meat on their bones the guitars have greater bite; they still retain their upbeat, poppy, persuasion, but now come complete with a punk and garage constructed backbone. Confident in their fuller body shape the trio are happy enough to put their previously concealed qualities on wider display; reggae, funk and balladry leanings are all flashed flirtatiously before they only go and wap out the trumpets – how forward!! Beating at the heart of it all though remains Kupa’s, distinctive drawn out vocals, each melodious drawl ably supported by How’s more conventional harmonies.

The net result is that Standard Fare have to their name a really cracking second LP, one that’s grounded and grafting, but still grabbing those fleeting moments to block out the world and look skywards to the stars. Growing up, but certainly not giving up, don’t let them slip out of your sight.

Standard Fare's website

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