Standard Wire Post to Wire

An alarming trend among post-punk and hardcore bands lately seems to involve meshing intricate music with overly-bombastic, high-in-the-mix vocals that hover well above the fray. While this formula can often prove to be frustrating as a band’s technical prowess may often be cancelled out by an irritating lead singer (thus rendering an entire album’s worth of songs unlistenable), occasionally the combination (almost) works. Such is the case with Portland, Oregon’s the Standard, a five-piece whose keyboard textures and rhythmic guitar rock could probably find a home in the collections of fans of the Constantines were it not for the tremulous vocals of singer Tim Putnam, who emotes and wavers in a similar manner to Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida. To be fair, the Standard is an explosive band and Putnam surely must have his hands full rising above their cacophonous mix in a live situation. The band’s aggressive, textured sound comes full-on from the building opener, "Metropolitan” and a certain ambience weaves its way through songs such as "Even Numbers” and "Ghosts for Hire.” What curbs these songs, however, is Putnam’s emo-inflected rendering of vaguely political and trivial lyrics. In previous efforts with artists such as Stephen Malkmus and Sleater-Kinney, engineer Jeff Saltzman has tried his hand at working with powerful and distinctive vocalists, with very successful results. Here, however, the Standard would have benefited from a second set of ears to rein Putnam in and concentrate the record’s attention on the band’s unique strength — its music. (Yep Roc)