Friday, 3 February 2012

Album Review: Standard Fare – Out Of Sight, Out Of Town

Released: 30th January
Label: Melodic
Get It: Band Website

The second terrific album from the Sheffield indiepop stars

Despite debut album The Noyelle Beat being released in 2010 it's seemed like a long wait for Out Of Sight, Out Of Town thanks to a push-back of over a month. With the label, understandably, wanting to release after the festive season when people are once again interested in new music it's felt as if the CD has been a long time coming. Luckily it has been very much worth the wait and initial listens suggest that Standard Fare may have outdone themselves.

Other than vaguely using the term 'indiepop' and mentioning their three-piece vocals/guitar/bass/drums set-up it's difficult to describe Standard Fare's music. Unpretentious, it's the result of three very talented musicians getting together and playing excellent songs. With the vocal pair of Emma Kupa and Danny How both taking lead the sound remains fresh and varied across the album. Ensuring that these vocals are high in the mix too is a nice trick as it means that the pop nous at the core is highlighted and the songs burrow their way into the listeners head and stay there.

With so many terrific songs on Out Of Sight it's hard to pick highlights. But for the purposes of this review I guess I must. Even aside from the Star Wars reference 'Darth Vader' stands out by virtue of being so extraordinarily pretty. Slower and sadder than most of Standard Fare's songs it features what's likely to be the best opening song lyric of 2012. “I'm not Darth Vader / Luke, I'm not your father / I'm not leaving you for good”.

Sky Larkin-esqe single 'Suitcase' is also rather fab and more upbeat than you'd expect from a song about preparing for a nuclear winter/zombie apocalypse, but in terms of tracks that'll have you bouncing off the walls, 'Call Me Up' wins the prize. It's perhaps Danny's finest lead moment yet and with the chorus of “So call me up, call me up / But I'm not looking for love / It's just a one off / It's only a fuck” that goes absolutely poptastic for the finale it's impossible to resist.

If there's one weak point on the album it's around the middle with 'Bad Temper' and 'Older Woman'. Not that either are bad, but in following 'Darth Vader' their impact is lessened. Stil, it's a small gripe on an album that includes as brave an opening song as 'Look Of Lust' and epic close 'Crystal Palatial'.

Furthermore, the detail that's added to Standard Fare's lyrics really helps make them. 'Half Sister' in particular, which features the line “Do you have the same skin that burns to a crisp when the clouds part?”. But in terms of relating, it's 'Dead Future' that really hits home. “We're all bright eyed on the outside but out hopes are crushed” epitomises how even when we manage to get jobs they're not what we want to be doing and can create as much sadness as unemployment.

But those are just some moments. There's plenty on Out Of Sight to delve into and wrap yourself up in. At only thirty six minutes multiple plays don't take long and reward greatly. In short, this will be one of the best albums of 2012, and with Standard Fare sitting alongside Allo Darlin', This Many Boyfriends, MJ Hibbett & The Validators and Big Wave (not to mention the whole JoFo/LosCamp/etc movement) we're in the midst of a new golden age of indiepop.

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