Release Day: TOPS - Picture You Staring

 photo: Rebecca Storm

photo: Rebecca Storm

Will Shenton

We’re twenty-one days from the autumnal equinox, and I can hear them – the last, desperate cries of a carefree summer belted defiantly into the face of a cold, bitter, inevitable return to reality. Or maybe that’s just the bums in Golden Gate Park. Regardless, September marks the season for saccharine nostalgia, and TOPS’ newest release, Picture You Staring, is exactly what we need to ease into our annual comedown.

There are plenty of beachy tracks, and lead singer Jane Penny’s understated, delicate, and almost languid vocals trip along over the buoyant “Blind Faze,” “Superstition Future,” “2 Shy,” and “Easier Said.” Thankfully, though, this LP doesn’t limit itself to upbeat, daydreamy pop. “Outside” and “Change of Heart,” for example, bring to mind the unironic melodrama of someone like Twin Shadow, complete with 80s-esque synths and reverb.

“All the People Sleep” is a personal favorite. It’s moody, a little dark, and its verse-chorus structure bounces all over the place. Plus, I can’t help but hear a little shoegaze influence, which is a pleasant surprise in the middle of an album where it’s otherwise absent. “Driverless Passenger” and “Destination” close things out nicely, and in keeping with my seasonal theme, serve as a mellow little requiem for warm, breezy days gone by.

Picture You Staring drops today on Arbutus Records, and I give it a hearty recommendation for those distressed by the looming specter of cold weather and early sunsets. Even if you’re jazzed about the idea (you psychopath), I bet you’ll get a kick out of these Canadian jams.