I shouldn’t be going to this gig; I should be sipping a delightfully overpriced lager in London’s noted Brixton Academy venue and eagerly awaiting the first of four Pavement reunion shows I’m due to see this year. HOWEVER. Thanks to my generous employers turning down all leave requests for the week, I will be staying put in Cardiff and consoling myself with the fact that I’ll be watching the makers of the best indie pop album I’ve heard this year. For free.
Standard Fare are a Sheffield three-piece whose aforementioned debut ‘The Noyelle Beat’ does brilliantly what countless records of its kind routinely balls up; it makes three-minute indie songs about unrequited love and borderline-Aspergers social awkwardness sound affecting, sweet and damn near lovable. They have the smarts to, er, pay homage to Steel City fellows the Long Blondes’ finest moment (on ‘Fifteen’), and the confidence to release a debut single (‘Dancing’) which builds slowly from a Sundays-esque, mid-paced verse into a glowing, glorious chorus knowing that it’s good enough to not lose people’s attention. They also have, in Emma Kupa, a lead singer with a very slightly imperfect voice which is utterly gorgeous for precisely that reason, and a songwriter unafraid to let an open-handed confusion and self-doubt colour her lyrics. If you liked Sky Larkin’s slept-on 2009 album ‘The Golden Spike’, this is one for you. I am excited enough for this gig to ignore the truly rank support band. POSITIVITY, DUDES.
flux=rad presents STANDARD FARE
with CAT MOUSE CAT
Tuesday 11th May 2010
Cardiff Arts Institute, Park Place, Cardiff
Cat Mouse Cat will be onstage 9.00pm
Standard Fare will be onstage at 10.00pm
listen to Standard Fare here http://www.myspace.com/standardfare
Standard Fare may be named after a sign spotted on a bus, but the effect is anything but pedestrian – these Sheffield indie poppers are the kind of band whose name you’d happily scrawl on the cover of your school exercise book. A power trio comprising Emma Kupa, Danny How and Andy Beswick, they’re set to release their debut album, The Noyelle Beat, jointly on Melodic and Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation.
Recorded in six days with an indie aesthetic that would have made John Peel proud, the album is named for a formative period in the band’s development when they travelled across the channel to play at a festival in Noyelles Sous Lens, France. “It was where we felt our sound came together,” says Danny, and the collection of songs they were playing became The Noyelle Beat.
What does The Noyelle Beat sound like? Packed with lovelorn tunes, youthful energy and Emma and Danny’s brilliantly balanced his ‘n’ hers vocals, that’s what. The album even displays a uniquely charming approach to world issues: “Global warming is getting me down / It’s making the sea between us wider and deeper,” sings Emma on Philadelphia. Elsewhere, Fifteen tells the story of a strange attraction for a 15 year-old. “Nothing happened!,” we’re reassured.
If that seems like slightly difficult territory, it’s part and parcel for a band whose lyrics put love lives to the fore. “Our main influences are relationships and experiences,” they say. “These songs are often what we wanted to say to someone at the time but couldn’t articulate. There is often a fine line in the nature of relationships and friendships. And there are many emotions and situations common to both. But since the songs are often based on true experiences it is good to retain some vagueness about who they are about…”
Standard Fare met when Danny (from Buxton) and Emma (from York) were playing in other groups as teenagers. When those projects fell apart, the pair resolved to work together, and poached Andy from Danny’s brother’s band. Early practices were held in Andy’s loft in Buxton, “and then in his Nan’s living room when they got too loud.” Music is a family business for Emma too – her mother was in ‘80s anarcho-punks Poison Girls.
“A riot of hormones, cut-to-the-chase lyrics, bolshie girl-boy vocals and jingle-jangle propusion…The best and most loveable aspects of indie guitar music.”
The Sunday Times (4 stars)