"It sounds a bit like two songs at once," is how Stereogum writer Tom Breihan catalogs former Elite Gymnastics artist James Brooks' latest work as Default Genders. Breihan's correct with his assessment, up to a point. Hearing malfunctioning electronics scrape over grieving synth and desolate background vocals, it's hard not to find two distinctive songs wrestling for control.
But "The World Ends With You" is more than a musical competition; it's an emotional battle as well. Amidst all of the sprawl we find Brooks, a total "s***show," struggling to get it together. He's vastly underestimated how demanding it is to put the wreckage of your life in the rear-view. He's not alone though, as his female companion flatly admits, "all that I wanted was to get far away from all of this, but it just keeps getting bigger the farther away from it I get." Her voice is the desolate one, desperate to break out no matter how painful an exodus may be. With words that would make Darkness on the Edge of Town era Springsteen proud, she assures: "Anywhere we're going, it can't be worse than everywhere we've been." As forlorn as that assurance sounds it’s remarkably soothing when paired with the opening sentiment, "but maybe it's not about what you do, maybe it's about who you do it with." Whatever waits over the song’s dark horizon won't be met alone.
(There's no more info on Default Genders' Magical Pessimism album, but as soon as some appears you'll find it here.)