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Montreal’s TOPS just released a soft rock earworm of a single on Arbutus Records, doubling down the label’s position as the collective torchbearer of the sophisti-pop flame. In contrast to the oftentimes sarcastic millennial take on smooth pop, TOPS are more interested in digging through the adult contemporary record bin with a mind to distill moments of genuine craftsmanship and nuanced sentiment. That this music seems to have found its epicenter outside of American borders, harkens back to the soft rock divide between the U.S. and U.K. thirty years ago; we had stars like Christopher Cross and Hall and Oats, who got shrugged off as middle of the road hacks by critics, while across the pond the Brits had Prefab Sprout and Aztek Camera, who were justifiably acclaimed for using tender themes and a glamorously hi-fi aesthetic as a platform to perform a series of exercises in refinement and purity.

Here we are in 2014 and TOPS have taken the aquatic synth and crisp melodies of the afforementioned groups and used it as a way of subduing and guiding the motions of our hearts. The opening break of Change of Heart sets the pace for a song that manages to toe the line between boisterous and delicate. Sleeptalker, the b side of their new 7”, shows off their knack for gossamer jazz-inflected chords in a structurally minimal but harmonically rich late night jam. The video for Change of Heart displays a perfect attitude for summer living: wring it for every buoyant, pizza-eatin’, alien blastin’, motel dancin’, leather-daddy-strip-teasin’ moment it’s got. Buy the 7″ here.

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