Friday, March 16, 2012

TOPS on Top

TOPS on Top
By Allison Rowell



Last Friday Night an Allston DIY warehouse venue called ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Us” (really long name) put on a show featuring four bands. As forty or fifty twenty-somethings filled the space with a thick cloud of cigarette smoke and body odor, there was one breath of fresh air radiating from the speakers; the sweet sound of Montreal based band, TOPS.

With clean, crisp keyboard parts playfully mixed with garage style drums and guitars, TOPS created a fun atmosphere for everyone watching. Kids who would normally stand with their arms folded, trying their hardest to look uninterested, could not help but dance along to these pleasant tunes. Their set list consisted of songs from their latest album, Tender Opposites (2012), that they were promoting on their tour down to Austin, for Texas’ annual musical festival, South by South West.

The album itself, both heard live and recorded, is well-constructed, melodic and upbeat. All eight songs, averaging around 4 minutes, create a very east-coast vibe, that could be described by many as easy listening. It’s whimsical. It reminds me of a throwback to 1980’s lounge music. It is so good that it can’t really be pinned down, making it that much more intriguing. It is tranquil and understated at some points (usually the verses), however some of the chorus’s pack an unexpected punch. Whether it be a change of tempo, the introduction of a flute or wind chimes, or a sudden pause, all the songs have a different surprise.

The cherry on top is the female vocalist and key board player. Her voice is reminiscent of Fiest and Norah Jones, but definitely stands all on its own. Maybe it’s the Canadian accent? Either way, her innocent, sultry voice embodies the feeling of a lullaby, without putting you to sleep and in some songs she unexpectedly yells providing a perfect balance between simplicity and the abstract. 

This is also done through the lyrics which seem to discuss an asshole ex-partner that everyone can relate to. Songs like ‘Diamond Look’ feature words like “Diamond Look bring your blinds/He just wants you for your pretty eyes/ He dresses pretty and right/He thinks he’s fierce in the heart/He thinks of nothing at all” representing a self-centered shallow player type that we all know.

Other songs worth checking out are ‘Go Away’ and ‘Double Vision’ which perfectly represent their unique style. However the whole album is available for download at http://tops.bandcamp.com/album/tender-opposites for only a dollar! (That’s less than a pack of gum these days) So support the artists and buy it! The website also provides tour dates, so you can check them out when they come back around again, and see something new and refreshing in the Boston music scene.

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