Sheffield trio Standard Fare make bright, chiming, slightly ramshackle indie-pop with a knowing ease that suggests a heavy influence from such genre stalwarts as The Smiths, Heavenly and Belle and Sebastian. The band’s neatest trick, however, is the occasional dueling boy/girl vocals that match Emma Kupa’s strained artlessness against Danny How’s boyish yelp, enlivening tracks like the sunny “Nuit Avec Une Amie” and the wistful “Secret Little Sweetheart”. Unfortunately, it is a card the band plays too infrequently on The Noyelle Beat, leaving Kupa to carry the burden of the lead vocals far too often, which only serves to underscore her limited capabilities. Meanwhile, the charming, Los Campesinos-like “Edges and Corners” proves that, should the band insist upon segregating vocals, How would have made the much stronger lead. More problematic still are the band’s lyrics, which find Kupa declaring “global warming is getting me down / it’s making the sea between us wider and deeper” at one point and elsewhere proclaiming her attraction to an inebriated 15 year old. “I’m only 22 / I still don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to do”, she finally confesses. A good enough defense to excuse awkward poetry, I guess, but statutory laws probably won’t accept it.
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