Top Girls – ‘Carolina’ LP
Fresh off of his release with our retired label (Speaker Snacks Recs), North Carolina’s Top Girls returns with his debut LP, a beautiful 11-track album appropriately titled Carolina. But unlike his previous releases, Top Girls (aka Evan Adams) focuses less on his vocal prowess and more on his weirdo-pop production style. The result? An album that has a lot of everything for everyone.
Stream/download Carolina & read Evan’s track-by-track breakdown below:
1. “This Race”: This album is largely about me trying to make nostalgia reconcile with living in the moment—being able to make new memories while still longing for the past where everything seemed easier. So I wanted the album opener to really introduce that theme, but then the a cappella bit comes in later to show that while this album is largely informed by retro themes, it’s still a reflection of me right now.
2. “Getting Closer”: I guess this one is a continuation of the first song. The key lyrics say, “try to pretend that I’m not, but I’m just getting closer.” And I guess that could apply to many things—we’re all getting closer to something. Some of those things are scary; some of those things are exciting. So this song was another way of me showing excitement for what lies ahead but also my insistence on living in the past.
3. “Tangerine”: This one is very different for me. It’s a very simple key part and my voice through a sampler. I guess I wanted the vibe to evoke this sparse, minimal, contemplative mood…where it’s just me being honest, despite not having lyrics. Then toward the end I just wanted this breakdown where it all comes together.
4. “The Escape”: This is an older track, but I changed a few things. I always really liked it and thought it had potential to work alongside other tracks in a larger release. Again, with this theme of nostalgia vs. real life, I often feel like I’m escaping real life responsibilities and realities, but at the end of the day, why would I want to escape? I don’t want to escape, but often I find myself doing it subconsciously or something.
5. “High Heels”: This is another different one for me. It’s completely instrumental, but I couldn’t really think of a vocal line that would fit; I just wanted it to stand alone, almost like a transitional track or something. Regardless of any themes I’m considering or anything like that, at the end of the day, I also want to make music that makes people dance, at least a little. So I guess this is my “dance” track, but I also used some effects and key sounds that reminded me of more playful 80′s film scores or something. I know it’s completely overdone to let 80′s, retro influences color your music, but I don’t really care. This album is about me growing up, accepting maturity while still holding onto my memories from childhood in the Carolinas, and the 80′s were my childhood.
6. “Past/Present”: I guess the title says it all. This track is basically a combination of two tracks put together—I just felt like they fit. One is older, and one is newer.
7. “I’m Not Going There”: This is an older one too, but I finally felt it was appropriate to release it on an album. I really dig the key line in this one; it’s simple, but I like what it reminds me of. Also, the lyrics really speak to my insistence on never stooping to conventions and cliches that other people do when they get older, specifically with relationships. I just don’t want to go “there”—I don’t have to. Just because I’m older, I don’t have to be unhappy and settle.
8. “King James”: There are no real lyrics in this one either, but the kind of dark vibe is a reflection on living in the Bible Belt. I’m a spiritual person and believe in God, but I don’t believe the way most people do around the Carolinas. Some of the more “religious” conservatives around here make me sick, and this is just kind of my way of dealing with it. People infuriate me sometimes, and if I can’t do a lot about it—fuck it, I’ll write a song about it.
9. “Remember”: I wrote this song while I was on a trip in Rhode Island earlier this year, and it’s definitely one of the more light, uplifting tunes on the album. I guess it’s my way of saying that I don’t know why certain things happen, but it’s important to stay positive and find humor and love in all situations. It’ll probably get compared to Washed Out or something—that’s fine. I just wanted to make a chill tune about acceptance.
10. “Missing Pieces”: This one is super dark, but I like it. I guess it’s closer to the “R&B” stuff I’ve done in the past, but it’s not vocal heavy or anything. It’s just about me thinking of the bigger picture, I guess. In other words, sometimes the hardest but best part of getting older is realizing that… it’s not about you. I think life is about thinking of others. I do have to leave myself behind, and that’s okay.
11. “Carrier”: This one is short and super simple. But it’s my way of ending the album on a happy, uplifting note. I don’t know what’s next for me…musically or generally. There are lots of unknowns. But I want to move forward with a positive attitude. That’s what this song is about. People will probably tell me I’m ripping off M83 or something, but whatever; I don’t really care. Maybe I am subconsciously? Regardless, I felt like it was the perfect way to close this album and this part of my life.
And here are some photos (courtesy of Evan) that heavily influenced Carolina’s all-around vibe: