TOPS to Pop Off

Ex-Silly Kissers Prepare North American Debut

For TOPS, a new name is more than a fresh paintjob.

You probably haven’t heard of them before, though the Montreal band has actually been around for a few years now—thye had just called themselves the Silly Kissers.

Undergoing a slight lineup readjustment, they’re sporting a brand-new sound as well, moving from light pop to heavy, nostalgia-infused tracks.

TOPS—who have been compared in various press to Ariel Pink and Fleetwood Mac—are up-and-coming once again the local scene. With an album set to be released at the end of the month, as well as a performance at this year’s South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX, the indie-darling sound seems set to grow.

Lead singer and keyboardist Jane Penny brought us up to speed on the band’s evolution from a church bazaar in the Plateau.

After admiring the wares, it wasn’t long before the earring affectionado was talking about the upcoming release of TOPS’ first album, Tender Opposites, coming out Feb. 28 on Arbutus Records.

“It’s all TOPS,” she confirmed when asked if any of the music from Silly Kissers had been carried forward to this new project.

Penny said she saw the album as a document of everything the band have done so far: the shows they’ve played, the places they’ve visited, and the parties they’ve attended.

“It’s a nice mix of classic instrumentation and more of a modern sound,” said Penny, explaining that the album mixes personal reflection with a fantastical “heaven narrative.”

Tender Opposites was recorded and mixed by TOPS at the Montreal institution that is La Brique, a warehouse-cum-music space in the Mile End. The mastering process was put in the hands of Seb Cowan, who, in addition to running Arbutus, also happens to be a music engineer.

One of the reasons La Brique, which doubles as a live venue, has survived for so many years is that it’s firmly embedded in an industrial patch of the city, surrounded by empty warehouses not much different from itself.

Concert spaces in more populated areas are often not so lucky in Montreal, which has a nasty habit of shutting down its most promising local playing spaces, in a weird game of cultural whack-a-mole between the city and the scene.

“It’s a constant struggle,” said Penny. “Every time a place gets shut down, a new one opens.” One venue that has managed to continue operating throughout the years is Il Motore, which will be hosting TOPS’ album launch party on March 1st.

Besides the album release and the upcoming party, Penny was also excited for her first tour with TOPS. The roadtrip will take them down the east coast into Austin, Texas for SXSW, followed by a steady climb north up the west coast.

The Prairie kids came to Montreal to pursue music after experiencing a lack of interest and audience. “Montreal is a great place to start because people are interested in new music and are loyal to local acts.”

TOPS (w/ Mac DeMarco and Steve JR) / Mar. 1 / Il Motore (179 Jean Talon St. W.)

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