Bird Streets Serves Up a Rock-solid Power Pop Gem

Photo: David Doobinin / Courtesy of Omnivore Records

Bird Streets shows John Brodeur's growth into an introspective songwriter, while Jason Falkner's production takes his long-established bedroom pop sound into a more fully-realized, radio-ready sound.

Bird Streets
Bird Streets


10 August 2018

Power pop is an often underappreciated genre despite its having generated some of rock and roll's best-loved or best-selling songs. The Knack's "My Sharona", Cheap Trick's "Surrender", the Romantics' "What I Like About You", the Cars' "Just What I Needed", or the Raspberries' "Go All the Way" are part of the American cultural lexicon while acts like Big Star, the Shoes, 20/20, and the dBs are spoken of in legendary terms. The genre remains vibrant with hundreds of regionally popular bands active across the U.S., but few acts ever cross over to broader success.

John Brodeur is a New York bedroom-pop savant whose debut Tiger Pop arrived in 2000 evoking comparisons to XTC. Nearly a decade passed before the lo-fi Get Through appeared in 2009, followed in 2013 by Little Hopes, his most sonically developed collection of songs. That is, until now with Bird Streets, his collaboration with Jason Falkner, an alumnus of Jellyfish and the Three O'Clock, two beloved power pop bands, produces the album and provides chiming guitar support for a collection of songs that cover all of the necessary power pop bases.

Bird Streets opens with the R.E.M.-like flourish of "Carry On", a song of rushing headlong into an adventurous future, direction be damned: "I'm in a crashing car, I'm turning over / Straight on into the beautiful unknown." "Betting on the Sun" follows, opening with one of the cleverest lyrics in recent memory: "I remember when we were tighter than Steely Dan / But now the fix is in, and you're breaking up with your friends." The song's bright chorus nonetheless affirms the genre's familiar trope of masking the darkness, "Your betting on the sun to bail you out, / But darkness falls on everyone's daydream", a mood echoed in the mournful "Spaceship".

That song, a deep, lyrical reflection on alcohol dependence, is an album highlight. Describing himself as "a spaceship out of control" then "a comet shooting through time / No way of stopping until life had passed me by," Brodeur embodies the displacement of the addiction and its perpetuation within the performer's lifestyle as he looks out on yet another late-night crowd "wasted before the music even starts." Where its chorus of "we've got a long way to go" points to self-awareness that can initiate successful life adjustments, Brodeur's "Same Dream" returns to the topic but bemoans its subject's inability, or unwillingness, to change.

Another enduring power pop trope is love gone wrong, and Brodeur demonstrates his ample abilities to capture this requisite component. "You're no cure, you're just another pill" he sings in "Heal", an intimate evocation of a toxic relationship fueled by mutual self-abuse. "Thanks for Calling", meanwhile, presents a vindictive ex with Brodeur's number on speed dial: "So the next time you hook up with an old friend... keep me in the dark." And "Stop to Breathe" confronts a pattern of bad relationship choices that, one suspects, will continue despite knowing better.

Bird Streets shows Brodeur's growth into an introspective songwriter, while Falkner's production takes his long-established bedroom pop sound into a more fully-realized, radio-ready sound. It's a rock-solid power pop gem.

Related Articles Around the Web



Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.


Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.


The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.


Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.


Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.


Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.


Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.


Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.


Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.


The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.