Default Genders
main pop girl 2019


5.0
classic

Review

by figurehead of "built different" EMERITUS
March 13th, 2024 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ull nvr ndrstnd

Good evening: Main Pop Girl 2019 is the second album released by Jaime Brooks under the name Default Genders, and it is the smartest, most moving documentation I've yet encountered of the eldritch interplay betwixt abstracted symbols and material suffering which I consider to be the LIFEBLOOD of punk. I am here to tell you why I want everyone who considers themself a music lover including you yes YOU to listen to it. Brooks first got noticed as the front half of Elite Gymnastics and, if that name doesn't ring any bells, she was also associated with Grimes for a while circa Art Angels. Like Art Angels, this album is electronic pop by genre, largely built on atmospheric dance and hip-hop grooves, hazy, glitching samples and/or floaty tinkling JRPG keyboards— but if that's as deep as you're willing to dig, you're missing out on just how radically different the underpinning creative ethos here is. The "electronic" in "electronic pop" is the fuel that powers main pop girl 2019, responsibly sourced from a deep and diverse fandom of house, boom-bap and DnB to hone one of the most impeccable aesthetics this side of Endtroducing (and a mean antifascist streak to boot). The "pop" in "electronic pop", however, forms the chassis of the whole thing; covers of Springsteen and Swift and references to Billy Joel’s "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" populate the tracklist, while Brooks' heavily-processed vocals evoke a kaleidoscope of icons from Britney bitch to the Beastie Boys. It's not quite gen-Z enough, not quite post-ironic enough to be "hyperpop", but there are a lot of clear parallels; Brooks has referred to their sound as "counterpop". It is not on Spotify because it contains uncleared samples. It is not on Spotify because Spotify is owned by war hawks. It is not on Spotify because you yes YOU putting in the work yourself is the most important part of it.


Brooks' voice, both literal and figurative, is the ghost in the machine– proudly referential yet utterly singular, splenetic yet tender, inextricably steeped in the digital age yet utterly revolted by the forces that have brought it upon us. It is as love-it-or-leave-it as voices come; I am not here to explain why you're wrong for finding her sloganeering gauche or the way she uses autotune grating (you are, though). Over the course of my first listens to Main Pop Girl, I heard a great deal of myself in Brooks: the sudden intrusions of countercultural minutiae, the suspicion of monied interests, the prickly, oft-pained relationship to masculinity, the perhaps-ineffectual veneer of aloofness. With the album largely written in the aftermath of her nascent career as a solo artist hitting the skids of spurious #cancellation, she was certainly well-positioned to speak to my own then-recent disenchantment with music-as-a-career, too. True to its title, much of the album's appeal lies in seeing the intimate and personal wrought on a silver-screen scale, in finding wrenching heartbreaks, venomous satires and universal truths in petty grievance and rampant ego tripping (at the gates of hell, even!). Main Pop Girl pays careful attention to the contradictions these descriptions imply, because that is what great art is supposed to do.


I've come to love this album the only honest way there is: finding it at the right time and the right place to soak in every detail. I love every detail of Main Pop Girl 2019. I love the way most of the lyrics on "When It's Over" are just garbled enough to make sussing them out downright tantalizing, and I love the way it subtly clues you into this very wordy album's relationship to cadence and inflection with nary a parseable sentence. I love hearing Navi's sampled chirrup after "'Ocarina of Time' droning endlessly on / From the dusk until dawn" on "Reverse Chronological Order, Part 2". I love looking up who Ben Dietz is and finding a weirdass substack full of the stray thoughts of a former VICE employee. I love how the cynicism of "Christmas Card from a Scammer in Minneapolis" gets punctured at the end, the spite and desperation and white rap and black tar all fading away as a former roommate reaches out about a bridge collapse in the neighborhood (people can still be good in a ***ty world!). The burns on "Vietato Calpestare I Prati" are all so fucking sick. Is it about Elon? Grimes? Both?? Even if it's neither, that specific genus of arrogant culture-vulture still got slaughtered forever by a goddamn Ill Communication flow. I loved buying the quickly-deleted ream of demos for this album off bandcamp and reading that Brooks can't stand how hard she used to try to sing like Springsteen and hearing "Secret Garden.NUXX" in a whole new light. I loved looking up what a .NUXX is and getting into Underworld.


DEEP BREATH


I love how "Black Pill Skyline" jacks the (excellent by its own merits (shut up)) melody of "Hey There Delilah", producing a pop confection every bit as cute and funny and sweetly tragic as its inspirations ever strove to be; it's the one snapshot of what being "chronically online" feels like that I would unhesitatingly save in a fire. I love how Sputnikmusic.com user Slex zeroed in on the importance of "Heart Emoji XO"'s depiction of sex work in his review of this album when it first came out, in a way that helped convince me to listen to it. I love drawing connections back through the album's fragmented narratives into "Reverse Chronological Order, Part 1" and I love what an incantation of a lyric "a nagging thought / a deathless roar" is. I loved listening to "Sophie (Emphasis Mine)" and realizing, really realizing, that I wasn't the only one who wished with all their heart for the mere possibility of buying a new dress "Like it was nothing", and I love all the ways that realization changed my entire life. I love how hard the "Holy Ground" cover goes, and I love what a powerful ending note the closer offers, and I love the HELL out of every single beat on this album. I love Recycle Culture, who I found through his production on this album's sorry-not-as-good predecessor (which I also love). I love Elite Gymnastics' newest album, and I love Out Hud and Alan Braxe and DJ Sprinkles and Broadcast, all of whom I got into because they got namedropped on "Snow Flakes". I love Ada Rook and Glitchlette and Wrendovelark and Anamanaguchi and Chloe Hotline, all of whom I got into because of their collaborations with Default Genders. I love The Seat of Loss, and I love drum n bass and breakbeat and jungle and old rave music, all of which I got into because I just needed more stuff like Main Pop Girl.


Music is not some eternal, static thing. The song will end, the musicians will pass away, the CDs and tapes and records will be worn into nothing by the sands of time. All of that happens a whole lot faster to the people on the fringes, the ones with no wealthy patrons to keep the lights on. This is why counterculture matters. This is why punk rock matters. All of this is about other people. Slex's review that first led me to Main Pop Girl 2019 has already been deleted— I'm not even sure why, we're friendly but not that close. Main Pop Girls 2015-2018 (the demos) is only accessible to me (or, for all I know, anyone) via my mobile bandcamp app; I forgot to download an .mp3 copy in time, and now access to it could very well die with that account (which might be soon, thanks a lot Songtradr). Brooks has quite strongly suggested she will at some point pull all her music from the public internet a la Terre Thaemlitz. Like tears in rain. It's up to the people to keep that shit alive, and we don't have all the time in the world to do it. It's worth it, though. It changed my life. It saved my life. Long live Main Pop Girl 2019.



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user ratings (73)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
parksungjoon
March 13th 2024


47235 Comments


dnb mentioned, torilla tavataan


Kompys2000
Emeritus
March 13th 2024


9471 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wanted to have this out for the album's fifth anniversary in February but when are things ever that simple eh



Thanks to Johnny (of the well) and to my sister and partner for assisting with general readability

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
March 13th 2024


60894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh fucking yes, love how this turned out

best review / only good reviewer / [one of the] only good album[s] in a dogshit year for music LFG

parksungjoon
March 13th 2024


47235 Comments


i'm born slippy

parksungjoon
March 13th 2024


47235 Comments


there is currently one person sharing the demo comp on soulseek if anyone's worried


parksungjoon
March 13th 2024


47235 Comments


why are you emeritus already z_z

someone
Contributing Reviewer
March 13th 2024


6714 Comments


Cause Kompys reigns supreme.

someone
Contributing Reviewer
March 13th 2024


6714 Comments


Seeing this reviewed makes me both happy, as well as anxious about all the yearly album catch-ups I've failed to finish.

Been successfully putting this one off since 2019

parksungjoon
March 13th 2024


47235 Comments


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCsNODFm8DY

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
March 13th 2024


3048 Comments


Awe-inspiring review ily

Slex
March 13th 2024


16660 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fuuuuck yeah glad this has a review again, and with the right score

Kompys2000
Emeritus
March 13th 2024


9471 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Damn i was soulseeking the demos for like half an hour the other day and couldn't find anything, cheers park



Appreciate the kind words, lotta blood sweat and tears over this one :'3

ffs
March 13th 2024


6246 Comments


wonderful review

pizzamachine
March 13th 2024


27349 Comments


“inextricably”

Thank you, almost nobody uses this word, yet it is inextricably tied to awesomeness.

dedex
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2024


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"I've come to love this album the only honest way there is: finding it at the right time and the right place to soak in every detail"



love ya

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2024


10274 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great words last para is everything

parksungjoon
March 19th 2024


47235 Comments


whomst mandela effected the comment section

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2024


60894 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

what

parksungjoon
March 19th 2024


47235 Comments


things done been deleted

Kompys2000
Emeritus
March 19th 2024


9471 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think I maybe deleted one about a typo cuz park edited his comment pointing it out but otherwise ??



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