Clear-cut fun, delivered at a frantic pace with a healthy dose of bittersweet angst.
Darren Loucaides 2011
Detractors of indie-pop tend to dismiss the genre’s bands and their repertoires as samey, and it’s fair to say that propagating an ‘original’ creation from the golden triangle of guitar, bass and drums isn’t easy. Frequently, though, bands disguise a lack of originality with a vast arsenal of instrumental weaponry. What Standard Fare do feels more honest: they’re not trying to change the world; they are trying to make you pogo away your woes with them on the dancefloor.
The Sheffield trio’s 2010 debut, The Noyelle Beat, wasn’t earth shattering but it proved them to be very competent songwriters – opener Love Doesn’t Just Stop was a soaring heartbreaker, while Fifteen was bloody good punkish-pop fun. Nothing on follow-up, Out of Sight, Out of Town, is quite as memorable as those two, yet it hangs together better as an album.
The production, strong on their debut, is stronger still here, the clarity and punch of each instrument easily shrugging off the lo-fi leanings of many peers. While an intimate atmosphere remains, the guitar is less discreetly multi-tracked, giving a bigger sound. This fits well with the album’s compelling momentum; it hardly pauses for breath, drums gallop apace, the Morse-coded bass racing to keep up. Close your eyes on 05 11 07 and you’re rushing forwards on the train mentioned in the song, at a window seat with Emma Cooper as she proclaims, "I don’t care where we are going," guitarist Danny How echoing her words longingly in the background.
Not overused, these girl-boy vocals produce a wonderful contrast: How’s voice is fairly smooth and delicate, while Cooper’s is by comparison throaty, chirpy, with more of a northern edge. This works best in Dead Future as they both call out, "Ba-ba-baba-bite my tongue". Curiously, when How takes the lead vocal on Call Me Up, it turns out to be the highlight; offering no-strings sex with the warning not to look for love, this 90s-style indie-rocker blasts through verse and chorus twice in a minute-thirty, then gives the last half over to a glorious guitar-drenched finale.
Despite a few divergences from the usual lovelorn theme – there’s the nuclear holocaust scenario of Suitcase and a lament over a long-lost sibling in Half Sister – Out of Sight, Out of Town is clear-cut fun, delivered at a frantic pace with a healthy dose of bittersweet angst.