TOPS – ‘Tender Opposites’
Tender Opposites / Released February 28, 2012 / Arbutus Records
My relationship with Arbutus Records has grown over the last couple years, in direct correlation with my continued realization of just how quality all of their bands are- from my first love of Sean Nicholas Savage, to Blue Hawaii, Braids, and Grimes. And that’s just scratching the surface of some of the top notch artists that apparently grow on trees up there in Montreal.
Needless to say, TOPS springs forth from a deep well of talent. Pulling all the best parts together from their previous and current projects, TOPS is like some sort of pop music megazord. Stemming from such acts as Silly Kissers (now disbanded), Pat Jordache, Paula, and more, each band member has called upon their own devices in search of the perfect pop sound, knowing that when combined, they would be unstoppable. TOPS features the perfectly unique vocal stylings and gentle synth of Jane Penny, the mature and crafty guitar work of David Carriere, and the ocean of rhythm in which they float, consisting of bassist Tom Gillies and drummer Riley Fleck.
Tender Opposites is the bands debut as their newly formed super-agent. Jane’s vocals mark the vibes you get from this album. On the albums opener, she eases you into her capabilities with a tamed mantra, “sweet dreams”. Almost immediately, the voice that immerges on “Diamond Look” is so different you might question whether you’ve heard it yet. From there on, the complexity of her vocal range is revealed layer by layer. Creating the comforting, sweet blanket of song like in “Double Vision”, and the shrill, demanding plea like on “Go Away” is no walk in the park, and yet Jane makes it sound like one. But Jane’s voice isn’t the only thing that helps set Tender Opposites apart. The sound is decidedly less classic 80′s synth pop as in the days of Silly Kissers, but rather it seems to drifts even further into the past for some of it’s inspiration. The sound gracefully treads a line that few tread. A line in between something nostalgic and familiar, but solid and unique enough to set it apart from what their contemporaries are doing.
The album is out tomorrow on Arbutus, on both CD digipak and cassette. It’s as infectious as you could hope for a pop album to be, as weird and unique as you need it to be, sexy enough to get you going, playful enough to have you laughing, bittersweet enough to compel your dormant emotions, and good enough to be something you’ll be listening to for a long time from now. And this is only the beginning of our love affair with TOPS. Look out tomorrow for a beautiful Storytelling episode with these lovely people. I’m also very happy to announce that TOPS will be performing at the first ever PORTALS SXSW Showcase!
Stream the singles Arbutus has released thus far below: