Standard Fare

COSMO GODFREE finds Standard Fare lives up to the averageness of its name.

band cosmo godfree Gig Indie portland arms standard fare

The Portland Arms, Friday 20th January, £5 adv

[rating: 3/5]

Standard Fare are a band. There are three people in the band, two guys and a girl. They make music that falls pretty nicely under the indie-pop umbrella. Um, I?ll be honest, I’m struggling here. Is that my word count up yet?

Ok, maybe that’s a bit unfair. I actually quite enjoyed this gig, though it?s probably more to do with the fact that I like going to watch bands play than anything particularly special about this one. Standard Fare definitely have a sound, but it?s well-worn and it?s not their own. They?re lacking in both originality and ambition, neither of which would matter if the tunes stood up, but unfortunately that?s the problem.

Some of the songs are really quite good and succeed entirely on their own merits. 051107 is the pick of the bunch tonight – fizzy and propulsive, it really stands out from the pack. Not that the other songs deviate too far from this formula, but they just seem a bit undeveloped – indie-pop by numbers, if you will. Much of it is a bit too tame to ever really get out of the starting blocks, and that?s not an unfair criticism, because this is the kind of music that has been known to send me spiralling into giddy fits.


Stand-out tune

I hesitate to describe Standard Fare as ?twee?, especially since it often seems to be unfairly misinterpreted as a disparaging term, but we?re talking about a band whose new album cover shows rainbow-striped clouds floating over a village drawn in children’s crayons. As far as judging books by their covers can go, I think we?re on the right on the money here. The playing, actually, is pretty far from amateur, and guitarist Danny in particular has got some serious chops. His voice was sadly underused, but bassist and lead singer Emma more than made up for that with hers, which had a surprising variety to it.

For all their charm (both musically and in terms of winningly fey stage presence), Standard Fare just don?t have much to help them rise above the tide of bands out there offering the same thing. Which isn?t to say that it sounds stale, necessarily – there are good reasons why so many have trodden this path – but I can?t see anyone namedropping Standard Fare as an influence in ten years time.

At quite a few points during the evening I am reminded of a band that I like called Comet Gain, and if we are playing the influences game, I?d hazard a guess that they?re a pretty regular fixture on the stereo in Standard Fare?s touring van. They?re not doing anything revolutionary in terms of sound either, but they do have a stunningly good catalogue of songs, and the difference lies there.

Standard Fare are a relatively young band, and there?s certainly enough promise on show tonight to suggest they?re perfectly capable of taking it up a notch. I?ll go to worse gigs than this in the future. But I?ll go to far better ones too.