Standard Issue is going to Latitude this weekend. If you’re going, we’ll see you there. If you’re not, here’s what you’re missing.
Daughter – Alone/With You
I worry about Elena Tonra from Daughter… well, like a daughter. Beautiful, ethereal songs of introspective heartbreak, loneliness and self-loathing are the theme of the day and lead single Youth from the band’s debut album If You Leave talks of being lucky if you’re “still breathing” and of “setting your insides on fire for fun“.
There’s a teenage drama to their self-aware histrionics and the follow-up album Not to Disappear suggests the mood is still very much on theme. I just want to be there with a cuddle and a round of Jägerbombs, see if I can’t cheer the girl up.
I hate sleeping alone
“Aw! Come on. You can sleep in a star-shape, take up the whole bed, it’s fun!”
Terrified with the lights out
“Oh love, you’re 26.”
I hate living alone
“Well then… maybe let’s have a look at flatshares. I’ll get the paper.”
Talking to myself is boring conversation
“I am here, you know.”
I hate dreaming of being alone
“That’s gone up a gear.”
Cause you are never there
“OK, look. I do have a job you know.”
Just a shadowy figure with a blank face
“You’re getting dramatic. I’ll close the gin.”
Kicking me out of his place
“You can stay here, I don’t have to get up ’til 9.”
I hate walking alone
“Well now you’re being a little petulant Elena.”
I should get a dog or something
“Oh, now. No. Please don’t do anything rash, that’s a major decision and a lot of responsibility. Please don’t get a dog on a whim, it’s just not fair on the animal. Promise me if you thinking of doing that, you’ll discuss it with me first. Maybe we’ll visit a shelter and you can try taking a friend’s dog for walks for a week or two, see how that pans out.”
I hate eating alone
“I’m calling an Uber.”
If you see Daughter at Latitude, please give them a hug from me. But if you see them with a dog, I’ll be furious.
The National – Slow Show
This is one of about five songs that I overplay till I’m almost nauseous, and still I crave more. It’s about that social anxiety which only truly dissipates in the presence of the person with whom you are truly comfortable. They’re the person who gets you, and you live to make each other laugh. This is a love song, but it’s not about physical attraction or passion.
“There’s something about a bloke singing with a Scottish accent that can make a girl all woozily in the nethers. When he knows his way around a profanity, it can make her feel downright peculiar.”
Matt Berninger’s voice is at once absorbing, comforting, hopeful and mournful, and the melodic restraint during the verses – in which his discomfort is articulated – contrasts with the easy, flowing chorus, in which he expresses how much he wants to get home to the subject of this song. It’s so fucking beautiful, even more when The National are live because they’re surprisingly noisy.
Minor Victories – Scattered Ashes (A Song for Richard)
This song will direct your thoughts to everyone you’ve ever lost and anyone you think you’ll miss. Flippin’ ‘eck Elaine, why did you pick this bloody song? We’re at Latitude trying to enjoy ourselves! Trust me, Scattered Ashes is somehow heartbreaking and heartening at the same time.
The lyrics may make your heart sink and your eyes stream but the sound has an uplifting resilience. Soaring synths and melodic vocals raise your heavy heart and a determined bass points your eyes towards better times. Tell me what it’s all about; life will be harsh and unfair. But for now? Well, life gives us solace in its Minor Victories.
Frightened Rabbit – The Modern Leper
There’s something about a bloke singing with a Scottish accent that can make a girl all woozily in the nethers. When he knows his way around a profanity, it can make her feel downright peculiar. I first saw Glasgow’s Frightened Rabbit live; Scott Hutchinson was singing Keep Yourself Warm, about loneliness and horniness and how “you can’t find love in a hole”, and it was sorely tempting to try to prove him wrong.
The Modern Leper just pips Keep Yourself Warm to my top spot. The opener from the indie-pop/alt.rock (depending on your definitions of “pop” and “alt”) band’s second album, 2008’s Midnight Organ Fight, is a pure belter.
Urgent downpicked guitars and rhythmic drums swell from an insistent gallop to a full-on howl-along anthem. Hutchinson’s canny, poetic lyrics, delivered in that cracked and throaty drawl, are jam-packed with self-loathing and ‘I’m not worthy’ sentiment, as he pokes around in post-relationship misery. And yet. It’s incredibly exhilarating – a sort of complicated punch the air as you punch yourself in the balls manoeuvre.
Eight years on, Frightened Rabbit have just released their fifth studio album, Painting of a Panic Attack, an LP they got The National’s – oh, The National! – Aaron Dessner’s help on. He’s unlikely to have cheered them up any, lyrically. Thank fuck – few acts do heartbreak and hangovers as explosively as F’Rabbit.
I have loved Emmy The Great (also known as Emma Lee Moss) since 2008 and her smashing and unsettling early single We Almost Had a Baby. I finally saw her live last year at DeerShed Festival, my youngest (two at the time), fast asleep at my feet. It was a toddler error. She missed an absolute electronic blinder. ETG is cool, note-perfect and sharp as a tack.
Phoenixes is from her latest album Second Love (2016) and, like her, it’s funny, smart and beautiful: “First there were five, then there four / Leaf, he changed his colours, that’s for sure / River was your favourite, His eyes were aqua / He’s in our history now, Like Cleopatra.” And like all her songs it’s ridiculously catchy, the “Like we were 17” refrain just ready and waiting for the next Aubrey Plaza Mumblecore vehicle.
Perfume Genius – Queen
A joy of the festival experience is how it can provide a temporary cocoon of loveliness – and Bowie knows, we certainly need that in 2016 – yet it’s worth being reminded that for some, it takes more than a pair of wellies and an artisan pie to escape the real world.
As Perfume Genius, Seattle singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas is used to laying his vulnerabilities bare; Queen, from his 2014 album Too Bright, is an unflinching look at the damage wrought by homophobia, and the battle against internalising society’s depiction of him as “cracked, peeling, riddled with disease”.
With his usual fragile chamber-pop dragged through the gutter by Portishead’s Adrian Utley, all grimy-leather glam prowling and glass-shard synths, it’s hardly a festival singalong. Yet when Hadreas turns the self-hatred into a chorus of sneering defiance – “No family is safe, when I sashay” – you may find yourself reaching for that lighter after all.
New Order – True Faith
One of the downsides of being on stage last thing on a Sunday, outside from the fact that you’ve got whole new species living in your trainers/hair by then, is that you miss the final headliner.
Although not so for Standard Issue this year, which is finishing in time to be in the crowd for the elder statesmen of the Manchester music scene. And following reports of a barnstorming turn at Glastonbury, where else would you want to be?
Some of Standard Issue's brilliant women's carefully crafted words for your reading pleasure.