If you were away from the internet last week, you missed some shit. Here’s the short version: James Brooks, who used to record as Elite Gymnastics, changed his recording name to Dead Girlfriends and released a fascinating EP called Stop Pretending. One of its songs, “On Fraternity,” got our own Claire thinking, and she wrote a long and controversial piece about the song, its idea of feminism, and whether it involves Brooks “mansplaining” the idea of victimization to women. The piece got a lot of attention, drew impassioned responses from both Brooks and his girlfriend Claire Boucher (who you know as Grimes), and led to this great Spin roundtable discussion. And then Brooks changed his recording name again, to Default Genders, and that’s where we are now.
I have my own feelings about the whole thing, and they’re not the same as Claire’s — which makes sense, since I’m not a woman and don’t have to deal with that firsthand threat of victimization or with other people’s white male privilege. (“Suggestion” is maybe my favorite Fugazi song, too, and while this discussion was erupting, I was praising a mixtape with a song called “Pu$$y Magnet,” so make judgements accordingly.) But my feelings to the side, Claire is still a woman working through, and writing about, the feelings brought up by an ostensibly feminist song. She didn’t do it to drive traffic to the site; she did it because it made her think. Whether you agree or not, that’s a completely valid thing for her to be doing. (Sorry, Claire, if I’m misrepresenting any of this. White male privilege! It’s a bitch!)
Anyway. I really like the EP! And my favorite song from it is the title track, an absolutely lovely kiss-off to other people’s idea of “punk.” In terms of sentiment, it’s a more layered take on Jawbreaker’s “Boxcar,” except rendered as a soft synthpop sigh. The song’s new video, like the “On Fraternity” video, is a lyric video, projected on the wall of a fancily decorated apartment, and it’s oddly absorbing. Check it out below.
You can stream or buy Stop Pretending here.