Saturday 17 December 2011

Standard Fare: Out Of Sight, Out Of Town

Standard Fare are a rock band who play pop songs. Their big bold songs have killer grooves balanced by intense vulnerability. They glean with the shimmer of The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow and carouse with the jubilant punch of Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. Their second album Out Of Sight, Out Of Town is brilliant, dramatic and clever from start to finish.

Brilliant? The second song 05 11 07 reminded me immediately of Steve Earle’s I Ain’t Ever Satisfied; much later, a paean to an estranged relative, Half Sister, wonders “do you like Steve Earle?” This is a record made by music fans still in love with the magic of pop. You know at the beginning of the girl group floorshaker Dead Future that Emma Cooper and Danny How will engage in a call-and-response. Rather than make Standard Fare predictable, they sweep you up in their joyous celebration of pop music.

Dramatic? Take your pick. Any one of these songs is so powerful, whether in gigantic tunes or romantic desolation, it could raise the roof of the Royal Albert Hall. Just in Older Women you’ve got sapphism, inter-generational sex and bitter jealousy.

Clever? Again, so many choices, but just listen to Crystal Palatial. The opening line “I met her on a penny day” is a reference to the cheap entry shilling days at the Crystal Palace exhibition in 1851 which were quite the pick up joint. The break in the narrative for the authorial voice to advise “smoking’s bad” tells you more about the singer’s feelings and the relationship’s future than a whole verse could.

Emma Cooper’s bass has the same bounce that Andy Rourke used from his background in a Manchester soul band to lift The Smiths above the indie treadmill. Likewise, Danny How could expect Johnny Marr to give him one of his old guitars out of respect. I don’t much care for most bands who sound like The Smiths – I certainly don’t much care for The Smiths after 1984 – but in Standard Fare you’ve got a band that take the best of some great acts (Bruce Springsteen, Thin Lizzy, The Smiths, Steve Earle, for instance) and make it all their own.

I don’t know how many favourite bands I have; what I do know, though, is that when I listen to Out Of Sight, Out Of Time, Standard Fare are my favourite band.
Standard Fare - 051107 by In House Press

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