Calgary, AB’s Astral Swans (aka Matthew Swann) returns with the gentle “Bird Songs,” a fantastic soft spoken psychedelic dream-pop ditty. The song has the cognitive dissonance I love where the mournful lyrics are set atop a catchy, major-chord guitar riff and colourful synths. The mournful mantra and chorus of the song, “I’m free / I don’t know if I’m happy,” is easily memorable and relatable. This single reminds me of the dream-pop craze of the late 00’s which I dearly miss; bands like Memphis, Girls, The Radio Dept., and Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
“Bird Songs” is self-produced with sound engineer Paul Chirka (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra), who previously worked with Swann on the 2018 “Strange Prison” album. Swann is joined here by guitarist Jim Bryson (Kathleen Edwards), drummer Brock Geiger (Reuben and the Dark) and rising Calgary vocalist Laura Hickli. “It’s a song about self-sabotage,” Swann shares. “This track is about keeping someone really wonderful at arms length out of fear, self-protection, mental illness, and selfishness.”
Now, sometimes a music video is used to promote a bands’ live exuberance and swagger, other times as a creative visual accompaniment. “Bird Songs” is most definitely the latter! Michael Peterson’s glowing pastoral shots with ‘floating Matthew Swann singing heads’ in blossoming flowers is a wonderfully fun trip. Highly recommend watching the video when you listen to the track on repeat!