TOPS are a Canadian group whose track ‘Way to be Loved’ featured Mac Demarco’s testicles in the video – something that apparently was newsworthy.
TOPS’ second L.P Picture You Staring is a blend of that Canadian sunshine Indie Pop-Rock edged with an 80’s radio nostalgia and a comfortable lo-fi state. With ‘Blind Faze’s bright guitars and ‘Outside’s big synths and throwback percussion production – not on the same level as Kitten though – the group manage to collect their sound into a much neater package than on their debut which dragged due to a lack of dynamics.
Whether they are closer to Mac Demarco or Alvvays, TOPS dip a little into sounding like Berlin and the label ‘Italians Do It Better’ on a diet. The vocals of Jane Penny are gentle and sweeping. On ‘All the People Sleep’ the vocals and guitar swim together and on ‘Easier Said’ her voice works like a cool breeze on a warm sunset.
‘Driverless Passenger’ breaks away from filtered polaroids and instead it’s darker and closed in: ‘scared cause I know I’m alive…lost in a shiver I cry’. Pair this with closer ‘Destination’ and you almost get a completely different band to that who have been making indie-pop tunes for the first 35 minutes of the record. I’d love to see an E.P’s worth of these darker tracks because I feel like TOPS should integrate that sound more and evolve into the second half of the decade as a leading force in Canadian Music in general, look out Arcade Fire.
After multiple listens, there is this strange comfortable numbness that I’m taking to be good.