Limbo. It’s a funny place to be, but it provided inspiration for the second album from Standard Fare, the Sheffield-based indie-pop power trio who debuted with 2010’s The Noyelle Beat, their lovelorn, melodic songs and male/female vocals making them the new darlings of the indie-pop scene. “We’re now in our mid twenties – not young and not old, not yet with kids but starting to earn money, starting to see how we fit into the wider world and how we feel about this,” says singer/bassist Emma Cooper. “The album’s lyrics are a bit more mature than our debut – we didn’t want to just write about our romantic failures and frustrations, although they’re hard to avoid!”
These 12 tracks, then, concern subject matter as varied as the Holocaust (recent single “Suitcase,” written about a survivor and friend of Emma’s family who recently passed away), bitterness (“Kicking Puddles”), frustration (“Dead Future”), divided families (“Half Sister”) and unfaithfulness (“Early That Night”). With the widening lyrical scope, the album’s texture has become more diverse too, with a greater contrast between heavy and light, fast and slow, dancefloor and bedroom. The guitars are beefed up, the melodies are unbeatable and the words are flecked with wicked humour.
Recorded with producer Alan Smyth at 2fly in Sheffield, the album represents a years worth of writing and 11 days of recording, which, compared to the whistle-stop weeklong session of their debut, is practically a marathon. “It did feel like a different way of recording to the first album,” says singer/guitarist Danny How. “We didn’t always have the songs finished by the time we got to the studio and although that made it tougher to record them, it meant we weren’t dead set on how the songs should turn out. It was a nice feeling to hear things falling into place.” In addition to the tight power trio of guitar-bass-drums, the band are augmented this time by a trumpet player (Brad San Martin from Boston’s One Happy Island) and violinist (Emily Gunn from Sheffield’s ‘Nat Johnson & the Figureheads’), adding an extra dimension to their raw sound.
Standard Fare met when Dan (from Buxton) and Emma (from New Mills) were playing in other groups as teenagers. When those projects fell apart, the pair resolved to work together, and poached drummer Andy Beswick from Dan’s brother’s band. Early practices were held in Andy’s loft in Buxton, “and then in his Nan’s living room when we got too loud.” Music is a family business for two of their number – Emma’s mother was in ’80s anarcho-punks Poison Girls and now plays Jewish folk music and organises jams in pubs and on trains. Dan’s family band plays old Motown and Rock ‘n Roll. Outside of the band, the three-some have far ranging interests: Emma is studying for a PhD, and has an allotment and a penchant for cycling; Andy is a graphic designer, loves riding motorbikes and has dived 20metres in the Indian Ocean; and Dan is a black belt in karate.
Even now, their small-town origins inform their music. Out Of Sight, Out Of Town was the name we had for our first demo when we were based in a small town and found ourselves a bit isolated from cities and other bands,” says Dan. “it feels more relevant now though because we’ve had the chance to get out there and explore lots of different places, but sometimes you still need that hiding place to go back to.”
Out of Sight, Out of Town.
Street Date: Jan. 24, 2012
1.The Look Of Lust
9.Call Me Up
11. Early That Night