Dead Girlfriends – ‘Stop Pretending’ EP

Ex-Elite Gymnastics member James Brooks delivers a moody, sociopolitical message under his new guise.


Words by: Sandra Song

Dead Girlfriends comes to life as the new solo project of former Elite Gymnastics member James Brooks, who released a four track EP aptly titled 'Stop Pretending' on Monday.

Conveying a powerful sociopolitical message amidst blunt accusations and biting quips, 'Stop Pretending' is framed by slightly melancholic electro-pop backings, which are surprisingly stripped-down relative to Elite Gymnastics's scattered production. With this new endeavor, Brooks also eschews his former outfit's sample-loving, somewhat over-stimulated sound for something a bit more nostalgic and 90s Saddle Creek. And much like the attitude of your secondary school misfit self, Dead Girlfriends is confrontational and slightly uncomfortable in its attempt to attack society's all-enveloping misogyny that he feels has been ignored for far too long. Brooks' mission is even evident in his new name, a reference to a speech made by radical feminist Andrea Dworkin, who famously said we have to measure the progress of women by the number of dead girlfriends and battered women rather than the level of female visibility in society.

Continuing the secondary school analogy, Brooks' subtlely Autotuned vocals recall the intensely personal diary entries of teen strife – confrontational, angsty and sardonic – yet underline something very adult: the profound self-consciousness that comes from white male privilege – and guilt. Take the lyrics on the title track, which find Brooks spitting "Tell me again what you told all the people you ever had underneath you about how you meant well" or the even more direct "Tell me again about how heavy the crown is of the weight of the burden of being white and male". Sonically, that frustrated, acidic edge is offset by a simple drum machine beat and catchy electric violins. Stream the EP below and prepare for the sad-eyed sounds and a pronounced "shit on society" attitude.


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