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TOPS, 'Perfected Steps'

On "Perfected Steps," Montreal's TOPS present a breezy send-off to ideas and customs past their prime, done up with a deceptively light, subtly contemptuous vibe. Vocalist Jane Penny depicts an unnamed showboater clinging to youth, a "burning up beacon" and "dying star" of bygone values set to implode; as the anonymous character shines their fading light to nobody, the reality of obsolescence closes in. Yet they keep at it, totally unaware. Penny's airy vocals and the band's soft-rock jangle gently present a case for moving forward, beckoning us to get with the times no matter what side of the generation line you fall on.

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Evan Miller