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Sarah Tomlinson


Blame it on the rain that plagues the Pacific Northwest, but a whole new batch of fresh atmospheric rock is coming out of Portland these days, from the fairy-tale quirkiness of the Decemberists to the stripped-down delicacy of Dolorean. The Standard earn a place on that list with their second album, a moody lament full of angular melodies and heartbroken vocals. The mood is set by Tim Putnam’s theatrical vocals and Jay Clarke’s keyboards, which lace shiny shards of melody around strains of cello and Rob Oberdorfer’s bobbing bass lines. On the hard-edged opener, “Metropolitan,” Putnam’s voice croons and cracks as he trades pulsing guitar hooks with second-guitarist Ritchie Young over a buoyant beat. More characteristic of the Standard is the stuttering mid-tempo ballad “Ghosts for Hire,” which is sliced by tightly coiled guitar over gliding keyboard effects.