I will admit that at first I was sceptical. After seeing some reviews that mentioned ‘indiepop’, ‘twee’ and posting comparisons to groups that can cause apoplectic fits in the Geek Lair, I was more than ready to unleash my hatred. Then I heard ‘Love Doesn’t Just Stop’. I hit ‘repeat’. I kept doing it for a week and then finally moved onto the rest of the ‘Noyelle Beat’ set that it opens. I was not disappointed for a moment.
It is a matter of personal context of course, but as with the Kid Canaveral set, there is something of the theatrical in Standard Fare’s songs. Where once, a long time ago, they would have spoken to me of my life (or at least of the life I wished I were leading) now they appear as set pieces: episodes of slightly surreal docudramas that I would never watch. They are like watching people’s Facebook updates and posts unfolding on the screen: lives lead elsewhere, each more interesting than the one you just posted. And of course everyone else feeling the same, wanting to be anywhere but where they are. But then, I guess this has always been the nature of the finest Pop Art - the creation of vessels into which to place our own experiences, hopes and fears; to be eased and magnified as we require.
So yes, Standard Fare make magnificent Pop Art noise, and of course it goes without saying that anyone who has called them ‘twee’ has been talking out of their arse. For there is an edge that sets Standard Fare apart from all the, ahem, ‘standard fare’ of the dreary introspective indiepop world. It’s in the dynamic Punk Pop drive of ‘Philadelphia’ and it’s in the awkwardly brilliant switch of expectation in ’15’. It’s in the would-be-anthemic riffs of ‘I Know It’s Hard’ (saved from that ignominy by being a razor sharp edge on a rusty barb) and it’s in the bittersweet ache of ‘Married’.
Mostly though I think it all hinges on the vocal delivery of Emma Kupa. For where most vaguely ‘indie’ female singers are content to wheel out the tinny ‘girlie’ whine or the studied Camera Obscurist boredom, Kupa is not afraid to let rip. And it is at those moments when she and Standard Fare are at their finest, tearing out of the indie ghetto with an emotional directness and a fearless grin of defiance.