Pop Psychology

by Dan Bryk

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William Stuart Adamson
James Walter Ellison
Gabor Hegedus
Frederick Mark Linkous
William MacArthur Mackenzie
Philip David Ochs
William Reese Owsley III
Robert Wolfe Quine
Steven Paul Smith
Charles Weedon Westover

To wit: "This album represents a desperate attempt to make some sense of Rock and Roll. Deep in our hearts, we knew it was doomed to failure. The question remains: Why did we try?"


released June 9, 2009

Urban Myth Recording Collective UM-116

Sorta kinda produced by Dan Bryk

Cover painting ‘untitled’ (detail) by Jill E. Eberle
Portrait by Terry Laban

Many of the songs on this recording were written with the assistance of a popular music songwriting grant from the Ontario Arts Council. We are very very grateful for their generosity.


Critical Mass:

"[Best of 2009: #1] "The most perceptive release of the year -– and perhaps the most brutal yet certainly witty music ever written about the music industry itself. The tunes are good, real good." -Duly Consider

"Bryk is a Clipse for Burt Bacharach fans, peddling witty cynicism like crack. Pop Psychology adds up to an acerbic but ultimately forgiving snapshot of the mercurial musical world Bryk inhabits. [7.4/10]" -Pitchfork

"Each clever turn of phrase, jangly guitar, layer of odd instrumentation, and overdubbed vocal is a revelation." -Songs:Illinois

"At its defining moments, this album has the makings of a melodic miracle -- something which is evident as early on as the first track. A long, long, long overdue opus from this frightfully talented slave to the (perfect pop) song." -Indieville

[Musikal Awards Top 30] "Un album pop ispirato, fresco e leggero. Piccoli inni tascabili, melodie a presa rapida e ballate sghembe. Il paffuto canadese che ora vive a New York ha l'ironia di Randy Newman, la classe di Costello, l'immediatezza di Daniel Johnston e l'istinto lo-fi dei Pavement." -Kalporz.com

[Best Albums of 2009] "A strong candidate for best album of the year... a triumph of intelligence and wit, an oasis in a world full of idiots." -Lucid Culture

"[Best of 2009] A treasure that few will unearth, but one that will be held tight by all that take the time to listen." -Hero Hill



Some rights reserved. Please refer to individual track pages for license info.


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Dan Bryk Washington, D.C.

He writes the songs, he writes the songs.

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Track Name: Treat of the Week
you're holding up the bar
with a guitar in your hand
and a pretty little song
about some ugly little man
the kids are sitting down
hanging off each tortured word
the nuggets of gloom
falling off your lips
like polished turds

and you're thinking
the kids are alright
as they turn up
the house lights

you've got nothing much to say
but you say it pretty well
with your sad tales of irony
and love gone sour to sell
now the spotlight falls slowly
on the kid from soft rock town
that's the last stop on the go train
to becoming jackson browne

now your 15 minutes are up
so goodbye
and good luck

cause i heard that the word on the street
is that you're the treat of the week
they say you're the next one to beat
if you want to be the treat of the week
treat of the week

i dreamt of jaymz bee
in a rented mercedes
driving down queen st.
trying to bring back the eighties
the failure industry
is a growing concern
it's not what you achieve in life
it's what you learned

and you're learning
you're yesterday's bore
as they electrify the floor

cause i heard that the word on the street
is that you're the treat of the week
the tasty new christian to eat
some young lions' treat of the week
treat of the week
Track Name: Discount Store
i’m going to the discount store
yeah i’m going to the discount store
can’t afford what i used to afford and i hardly even noticed

i’m going to the discount store
yeah i’m going to the discount store
can’t afford what i used to afford and i hardly even noticed
know this
knowing that the world’s an awful great big place
and i am awful small
it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise
to find i don’t really matter at all

mom and dad don’t let me waste your time
mom and dad don’t let me waste your time
i know you’ve got to be at work by nine
to keep food upon the platter

mom and dad don’t let me waste your time
mom and dad don’t let me waste your time
i know you’ve got to be at work at nine
as if it really mattered

mattered that the clock needs punching
the man is watching
and the union’s gone for good
with all this freedom how come there’s no fun left in the neighborhood

A&R woman has central air
A&R woman has central air
every day i walk up three flights of stairs
and it’s getting hot this summer

label president has got health care
label president has got health care
every day i walk up three flights of stairs
and it’s really hot this summer

bummer that the world’s a great big awful place
and frequently unfair
it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise
that there’s just not enough to share
Track Name: The Next Best Thing
tell us doctor what’s the boy’s prognosis
advanced case of pop psychosis
he thought the best songs came by osmosis
not from running round the yard like your pet neurosis

you’re second guessing has he gotten too chubby
can we still sell it as cute and cuddly
this messy business gets him all ornery and grumpy
though we’ve cornered the market on girls so chunky

(he’s) always looking for the next big thing
when he could settle for the next best thing

i bet you’re thinking that i’m too defensive
overwrought and self-reflexive
all you ever do is give and give and
you can’t help wondering if i’m too expensive

i know you’re wishing i would be more patient
cute and quirky and bored complacent
it’s not like anybody’s waiting for my gay shit
so i’d better sit tight and wait for my paycheque

(you’re) always looking for the next big thing
when you could settle for the next best thing

while they’re tying up the tiny talent
they were busy burying miss balint
their good intentions keeping my muse quiet
cause i’ve still got the right to be silent

when they wonder why i get so nervous
airing my laundry to the weak and curious
i know it’s really just a public service
supplying the freakshow to the circus

i’m always looking for the next big thing
when they i could settle for the next best thing
Track Name: Apologia
you’re sorry that it had to end
there’s no more money left to spend
you did your best
now would i please go away

i trusted that you were for real
no matter how we cut the deal
it felt wrong then so i guess
that’s how it will always feel selling art
check your head
don’t trust your heart

you promised me right from the start
no promises, no billboard chart
no swear words in the racks at the wall mart

you couldn’t help but break the mall
you’re a big boy now you’re playing ball
you’re making all or nothing out of nothing much at all
so play your part
check your head
don’t trust your heart

i know that i’ve only got myself to blame
i ruined my reputation and my family name
you left me alone at the altar of my own desire
and somehow i still believe
that you once believed in me
too much to be such a liar

i heard your song in the movie show
you were paid to play i paid to go
you’re telling me but i already know

i looked up to you and defended you to everyone i knew
i said he’s doing everything he can

but he really should have picked a safer bet
he should have known from the start
check your head don’t trust your heart
Track Name: Horizons
i’m stepping off the bus
the next stop that we make
i’ve had just about about all the fun i can take
for one fare

there’s nothing left for us
there’s no more lucky breaks
maybe a god who’s on the take
if she’s even there

who said life was fair?

i’ll change the scenery
if you’ll just change the lock
put all the pop machinery in hock
i’m tired of playing

there’s nothing left to say
that’s hasn’t yet been said
most of the best words were in bed
that were worth saying

someday we’ll both look back and laugh at our naiveté
till then we’d best be on our way
you’d better believe me

i’m tired of illusions
horizons in my way
jumping to conclusions
horizons in my way
so scared of tomorrow
horizons in my way
always beg steal and borrow
horizons in my way
i’m tired of surprises
horizons in my way
masters of disguises
horizons in my way
so blind to the caper
horizons in my way
my life lived on paper
horizons in my way
running with the devil
horizons in my way
fakin’ it to the next level
horizons in my way
Track Name: (Aircheck)
from an AM radio
valdy's playing a rock and roll song
over on the FM dial
they're singing up where we belong
and on the CBC
one of us cannot be wrong
Track Name: City of...
somewhere down on peter street
the boys in suits want more
of the whore of babylon
than the hooters girl next door
dj spinning algorythms
cut into vinyl ring ing ings

meanwhile in someone's basement
the constantines are playing
while the kids sip their diet cokes
and the journalists are greying
i'd have to lean in close
to hear the words he's singing

city that works
city that sleeps in
till the crack of noon
on a saturday
(city of ecstasy)

city of blurbs
city where what they write
is what you do
is what they say

in the back of the legion hall
the goofs are playing faster
turning up after every song
until their heads are iced with plaster
the soundtrack of subjugation
to our friendly foreign masters

downstairs in the vampire bar
the laptop kids are mashing
some ungodly medley
of morbidox and eria fachin
if i didn't think they'd love it
i'd give them twenty lashings

city that purrs
city that prowls the streets all night
then sleeps the days away
(city of apathy)

party at kurt's
everyone who's anyone will be there
to drink the night away
or they won't be anyone

city of jerks
city that eats its young
with impunity
(city of sympathy)
city that doesn't give a fuck

city that lurks
city that waits for someone
somewhere else
to do it first
to prove it'll make a buck

downwind on cherry beach
ron sexsmith sits and mopes
mining for platinum
amongst a million romantic tropes
the tough kid asks are you buying?
and jocelyn says "nope"

city of words
city of numbers
filling empty pages
like poetry
(city of gravity)

city that hurts
just say you love me and i'll
head home
like all the never-weres

city of atrophy
i miss you
next to me
city of empathy
i miss you next to me
Track Name: That Mistake Again
Track Name: Street Team
the modern rock street team is parked outside
the double bill concert of sublime and live
they're offering the keener kids a ride
and some MP3's for their new hard drives

who am i to think i can resist
when they're better than i am at shaking my own fist
they're out shaking hands with the kids at the mall
each smile a sales pitch for a content utopia

the indie rock street team will help us rebel
they took away the bass but left us all the treble
they're outside the club in gap and dockers
reminding us that lou barlow wore khakis

who am i to think that this is wrong
i did a bad job of selling my own song
i tried to be cool but i took too long
now the other boot has dropped so i'd better sing along

the interscope street team is taking names
teaching the children to play new games
the bertelsmann street team is covering the bases
with signs and paint in old familiar places

who am i to think that this is bad
when there's millions of kids
who need to feel sad
and i let them down when instead they chose
to turn to third rate bland
or counting crows
or even axl rose
or maybe even ben folds

the indie rock street team is bound to win
when my own kid sister turns me in
she's off to the playdium again
Track Name: My Own Worst Enemy
i’m my own worst enemy
that’s what you said to me
and if i ever wanted to succeed
i’d have to cut down on my need
for someone else

i make my own life hell
and if my melodramatic parasitic streak
became much more pathetic
i should seek much more professional counselling

i’m my own worst enemy
that’s what you said to me
and if i’m witness to my own decline
i’ll be drinking blood like holy wine from a Dixie cup

fucking the simplest things up
and if my navel stopped being so fascinating
i could contemplate how many times that
i’ve run away
from the ones that loved me best
and you say
“why can’t you finally give this role a rest?”

i’m my own worst enemy
that’s what you said to me
well i know at least that you’re not bored
you’re the best advice i can afford
instead of feeling like you’ve learned a thing about my life
i see the feigned concern written on your face
thanks for nodding yes in all the right places
like the outline of an object is nearly traces

i’m my own worst enemy
Track Name: My Alleged Career
my alleged career
don’t waste a tear on me now
all the damage was done cause i dreamt
of being a star
drinking light beer by the pool while the action went on
in the hotel bar

my alleged career

my alleged career
watching the treat of the week
get to sleep with the girl that i just wanted to kiss
a peck on the cheek would have done
now i’m waiting alone with this dumb bouquet

my alleged career

who in hell do you think you’re impressing
by dressing like you’re 23 years old

my alleged career
maybe i’m doing this wrong
but this leather thong’s hurting my ass
trying to pass for some kind of cool modern rock masochist 
when i’m really a slave to the song
called my alleged career

my alleged career

please go away
please go away
please go away
Track Name: (Whatever)
genius is a fucking curse
i’d much prefer property
blind ambition’s hardly worse
than you here on top of me
it all comes down to how hard you try
whatever doesn’t kill you can still make you cry

once my dream of rock was great
of come and prosperity
now i punch the clock and wait
for some asshole’s charity
what good is living if you’re living a lie
whatever doesn’t kill you can still make you cry

how unimaginative can i get?
writing myself in the margins
i’ve got excuses to last my whole life with you
failure’s just part of the bargain
i could sum us up with one simple sigh
whatever doesn’t kill you can still make you cry

baby would you kill me now?
i know it’s not fair of me
everybody’s learning how
to make despair sound lovely
you could pull the plug or just say goodbye
whatever doesn’t kill you can still make you cry

let me give you some advice
while you’re sighing next to me
the music business isn’t nice
it’s not based on dignity
it all comes down to how hard you try
and whatever doesn’t kill you can still make you cry