TOPS - Tender Opposites
Is it possible for anyone to dislike TOPS? They may not be the most exciting of bands, not ones to haul in fans constantly, and certainly not the type to enjoy hours of radio play, but why force disagreeability on yourself when you're just perfectly normal and lovely easy listening? Perhaps a little bland way of selling yourself, but Tender Opposites is far from bland.
With the same level of disco tinged guitar/synth elegance as the likes of Summer Camp, opening track 'Evening' is brimming with dancey twanging guitar riffs and sweet, endearing vocals. Tracks like 'Diamond Look' and 'She's So Bad' are almost future-anthems, though maybe only for future hipster-mums, ones that only like bands because no one else they know likes them. The fact that TOPS may just appeal to those 'sorts' currently is really quite annoying. They deserve much more than that and Tender Opposites deserves success. TOPS are giving us the best types of modern-day disco anthems, ones that we can have no shame listening to, and ones that maybe in the future we will (or should) be singing as we recollect our youths.
However, it's all just a build up to album highlight 'VII Babies'. The rest of the album is, admittedly, a little too similar sounding, not that TOPS aren't charming anyway, but this is the point where the band step it up; catchy riffs and loving lyrics. Its the point in the album where you realise you should tell your friends to listen to this album, or even just this track, not just because you've come round to the idea that TOPS are in fact exciting, but so that you have some form of mutual musical indulgence to reminisce about when you're old and perhaps refusing to keep up with the latest bands, instead choosing to cling on to has-beens. Playful flutes and samba-style percussion on paper may sound disgustingly carnival-tastic, but TOPS do this in such a stylish and exciting way. And yet, despite the brilliance of 'VII Babies', it's a benchmark that the rest of Tender Opposites fails to meet.
Tender Opposites does provide overly pleasing tunes, but only as individual songs, there's just a little bit of missing-depth, a lack of song distinction. There may be beautiful vocals aplenty, but there's a lack of room for showcase or experimentation. That may not be what TOPS are seeking to fulfil with Tender Opposites, but there's only so much of a distant swoon that we can all withstand, isn't there?