Superviolet: “Big Songbirds Don’t Cry”

Despite working in a notoriously revved-up genre, Ohio pop-punkers the Sidekicks tended to sound cheerful and laid back during their 14-year run. After the band broke up in 2020, frontman Steven Ciolek further opened up his songwriting with his solo project Superviolet, this time using breezy acoustic guitar to match the relaxed mood. “Big Songbirds Don’t Cry,” the latest single from his upcoming album, Infinite Spring, centers around a hypnotic, nimble guitar refrain that’s like Elliott Smith covering “Dear Prudence.” Ciolek hints at his own jealousy and suppressed sadness, bringing up songbirds as a way of indirectly speaking about himself; his lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and affecting, balancing calculated wordplay with the humor of understatement. “Tell Trevor or whatever that his time is up,” he jokes from inside a low-lit sports bar, before delivering a double entendre: “And if he walks through that door/I’m sure I’ll clean his clock.” The song ends in an indie rock crescendo of electric guitar echoes, cooed vocal harmonies, and a roving bass line. Ciolek laments how the metaphorical songbirds “couldn’t quite hit that note right,” but everything seems perfectly pitched on this tenderhearted song.