More so than other acts, the sound of a TOPS song floating across the room is well and truly unmistakable. Ever since ‘Picture You Staring’ quietly established itself as one of the most resonant records of 2014, TOPS have largely strayed from the limelight, save for the release of ‘The Hollow Sound of the Morning Chimes', a one-off track that confidently basks in its own radiating glow for nearly seven minutes, and it’s in this same assured spirit that TOPS present their new record, ‘Sugar At The Gate’.
Opening cut ‘Cloudy Skies' soothes before U-turning fantastically into a K-hole, with Jane Penny’s voice cooing from all angles. From there, ‘Further’ flaunts a sharp synth breakdown that shifts beneath a charged refrain, while lead single ‘Petals’ is the most out and out TOPS tune on the album, a vintage show of form that shimmers with all the effortless momentum and sheen we've come to expect from the Montreal group.
Less soft around the edges are 'Dayglow Bimbo' and closing number ‘Topless’, with the former providing a fitting appetiser for the record’s most emotionally satiating track, 'Marigold & Gray’; the album’s slow-burning centrepiece grows in profundity with each revealing listen, and looks to be another monument for Penny, who easily boasts one of the most enchanting female voices in indie rock.
Never deviating from course, ‘Sugar At The Gate’ adds one more stitch to the tightly-wrapped DNA that makes TOPS so immersive and enjoyable, its ten glossy songs bearing all the marks of a band that has taken yet another step toward mastering their craft.
Words: Noveen Bajpai
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