Five Favourites: TOPS

Having just released their new album I Feel Alive, Montreal band TOPS create shimmering, atmospheric offerings, compellingly combining modern dream pop with shades of synth-driven ’80s soundscapes.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Jane Penny and David Carriere from TOPS, who have shared their “Five Favourites” – five albums that they’ve found particularly influential. Check out their choices below, and make sure you take a listen to the new album!

Jane’s Choices:

Berntholer – My Suitor
I was obsessed with this album’s title track when we were making the first TOPS record. They’re an avant-pop/post-punk band from Belgium. There’s something so provocative in the way Drita Kotaji sings English with a French accent. That and the minimalist production combine to make it into this catchy pop song, I love it. It’s a song I’ve been returning to a lot lately.

China Crisis – Flaunt The Imperfection
When David and I got together to make I Feel Alive we realised we’d both been obsessing over this band. He has this on vinyl and we’d listen to it while we made coffee before heading to the basement to work. I love the production, the feel is good, the songwriting is timeless. They’re a British new wave band, and yet this album is produced by Walter Becker from Steely Dan. I love all their records, but this one has a special place in my heart. Marta, who plays keyboard in TOPS, saw them live recently. I guess they still play shows! She said they sounded great.

Prefab Sprout – From Langley Park To Memphis 
Prefab were extremely formative for TOPS. When the band started we were brought together by a shared love of their record Steve McQueen. I chose From Langley Park to Memphis though, because it’s their most TOPsy record, and the most similar to our new album I Feel Alive. The first song is a bit of a stinker, but it also contains the words “Hot Dog, Jumping frog, Albuquerque”?! which is so entertaining. The second song ‘Cars & Girls’ is a certified hit. The production on this album is impeccable. The synths are super glossy, everything is light and groovy. It’s upbeat, great sound palette. ‘Nightingale’s’ is my personal favourite, especially this 12” remix. This is a record to put on when you’re hanging out at home and want something smooth and casual, with the occasional opportunity to giggle at the cheesiness of it.

David’s Choices:

Missing Persons – Spring Sessions M
Big fun, absolute slay masters bringing punk and glam energy to the mainstream with the proclivity of prog perfectionists. All fronted by fashion forward, proto-Gwen Stefani, truth teller Dale Bozzio. Just gets me going.

Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jackson – 1980
To me this is a retro-futuristic funk masterpiece! Extremely groovy tunes paired with Gil’s warmth and subdued delivery are the perfect setting for these songs about personal pressures, societal woes, and fears of the future.

Massive thanks to Jane and David for sharing their Five Favourites! I Feel Alive, the new album from TOPS, is out now via Musique TOPS.

LISTEN: Jennifer Touch – ‘Chemistry’

A smoldering, dark electro-pop gem; Jennifer Touch‘s latest single ‘Chemistry’ is a seductive, bold new offering. Lifted from her debut album Behind the Wall, which is set for release via FatCat on 24th April, the Dresden-born, Berlin-based musician wrote the track in the midst of a depressive episode.

“’Chemistry’ is the base of all of the songs on the record” explains Touch. “It was created on a Sunday in my studio when I felt kind of depressed with everything, useless and alone. I knew I had the music inside, but it felt like it was stuck. I started by experimenting with some sounds from the Nordlead I had borrowed from a friend. I’m really happy with how it turned it out”

It’s this harnessing of Touch’s nervous energy that makes ‘Chemistry’ such an interesting listen. The restless, looping synths underscore her measured, confident vocal delivery, giving the track its slow-burning power. Touch blends elements of 80’s pop with the techno of Berlin’s underground music scene, creating moody, cinematic soundscapes.

Inspired by her father’s record collection, featuring Human League, Karat and Duran Duran, as well as the likes of The KLF, Karen O and PJ Harvey; Touch’s influences have filtered through into her own sound. Listen to ‘Chemistry’ below, and follow Jennifer Touch on Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut