Standard Fare – Out of Sight, Out of Town

This one has all the earmarks of a Difficult Second Album. Standard Fare’s debut The Noyelle Beat won hearts with a blast of youthful hormones and spirited twee pop. Its follow-up simultaneously strives to introduce complex melodies, add more sophisticated instrumentation, and tackle grown-up subject matter. It’s a testament to the trio’s way with a hook that Out of Sight, Out of Town still charms more often than not.

Emma Cooper (who’s decided to come clean with her real name, dropping the Kupa mask) seems most determined to declare maturity. Polished tracks like opener “The Look of Lust” borrow a page from the march-to-the-mainstream playbook of their Sheffield buddies Slow Club. Her hooks remain solid though less immediate, but she spends too much time in mid-tempo on the more brooding “Darth Vader” and “Half Sister.”

Cooper’s leads threatened to steal the show on Noyelle, but Danny How steps out of the shadows on Out of Sight by keeping it simple and crunchy on “Bad Temper” and “Kicking Puddles,” tunes for which he also shoulders main vocal duties.  But that doesn’t stop Emma from peeling off the album’s two true standouts. “Suitcase” sets a first person tale of apocalypse preparedness (reportedly inspired by a Holocaust survivor family friend) to a vaguely tropical guitar riff. And album closer “Crystal Palatial” charges forth like a Superchunk nugget with a female vocalist.

You’re only young once, and it’s not surprising that Standard Fare couldn’t match the exuberance of their debut. Despite a mild sophomore slump, however, Out of Sight, Out of Town showcases a band with the goods to justify a long-term residence.

Standard Fare
Out of Sight, Out of Town