It’s been a long transition period for Minneapolis expat James Brooks, one-half of now defunct group Elite Gymnastics. After receiving a great deal of attention and accolades for their hazy and buoyant electro-pop, Brooks and his Gymnastics bandmate Josh Clancy parted ways last year and Brooks carried on alone, releasing music sporadically and using his Tumblr to write about everything from his band’s split to his thoughts on modern-day feminism as it applies to the music industry.
Today, Brooks’ transition to full-fledged solo artist seems to be complete. With little fanfare (and in typical Elite Gymnastics style), Brooks has released a four-track EP under a new name, Dead Girlfriends.
The sound of his new project is more straightforward than his previous work, with the vocals closer to the front of the mix and the lyrics clearly audible. The name was inspired by feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin (“It’s how Andrea Dworkin measures how much progress women have made in society—by counting the number of dead girlfriends”, Brooks writes), and his verses take on a similar tone, especially on the heavy-handed title track, “Stop Pretending.” On other songs Brooks is a little more abstract, painting a pop portrait that reminded me, especially in opening track “Words With Friends,” of Minneapolis artist MunQs.
Things take a sharp turn in the demonic opening beats of “On Fraternity,” which features some of the best production Brooks has released so far, and then recesses back into electro-pop territory for the remainder of the EP. Listen to the full album, Stop Pretending, here:
And watch the video for “On Fraternity” here: