Crushing, and deleting your ex’s nudes
It doesn’t seem fair! To her, or to any of us, really. Sure, we should’ve expected this from Julia, whose 2016 debut album, Don’t Let The Kids Win, included deadpan lines like, “I guess I was not made for your life.” But how can an album feel at once like the audio equivalent of a rape-revenge film and indulge in the social anxiety of something as simple as attending a party? Her nonchalant storytelling produces an almost, “a-ha!” moment in the listener. Take, for example:
Pressure to party, gonna stay in
Nothing good can come from me drinking
I would run, shoes off, straight back to you
I know where you live, I used to live there too
I’ve listened to this verse now 4 times in a row, and it still punches me in the gut. Julia doesn’t hide the fact that she’ll “try to love again soon,” and yet, “Pressure to Party” is still as danceable as Angel Olsen’s “Shut Up Kiss Me,” but lets on to more of the internal dilemma of reintroducing oneself as single while socializing post-break up.
A few of Julia’s favorite scenes to set — the supermarket, the airport, Sydney in general — return on Crushing, but in all new ways. Let’s compare the former:
Why’d you go to the grocery store
On the day you planned to leave
Left me here with all this food
My body does not need
And now I’m lying listless like a dog after a feed
Thinking about the life that you’ll now lead
– L.A. Dream, Don’t Let The Kids Win
Pulled off the highway
Found a place to sit
He took my hand, said I see a bright future
I’m just not sure that you’re in it
Don’t look at me
Look at the centre line
Maybe I’ll see you
In a supermarket sometime
– Turn Me Down, Crushing
“L.A. Dream” uses the grocery store as an exit strategy. Her significant other knows it’s excessive to leave Julia with a fridge full of food, but it’s all they’ve left to leave behind. “Turn Me Down” instead refers to the supermarket as a space of reconciliation, of banal humanity, a space where they may cross paths because of their basic human needs.
And the airport — oh, the airport, a breeding ground for anxiety — the flying, the possibility of accident or delay, the baggage, the emotional baggage — there’s an overwhelming amount of anticipation and expectation attached to trips to the airport. In “Same Airport, Different Man” off of Don’t Let The Kids Win, Julia laments about the changes she can’t bare to witness in her lover as they both depart and arrive, returning changed, and changing one another. In contrast to the disappointment felt in the 2016 track, “Body” off Crushing illuminates feelings that are more infuriating: after her partner gets the couple kicked off a plane for smoking in the bathroom, Julia informs him that she’ll be leaving him, that she’s “not a good woman when you’re around.” Though I think she could have placed blame less on herself and more on toxic masculinity of the self-righteous variety, Julia articulates a complicated experience of ending a relationship in favor of her own agency with minimalist bass, drums and keys.
To further complicate purging the toxicity in her life, Julia paints a vulnerable picture in “Body” that is worth doubling back to:
I remembered early days
When you took my camera
Turned to me, 23
Naked on your bed, looking straight at you
Do you still have that photograph?
Would you use it to hurt me?
Well, I guess it’s just my life
And it’s just my body
Haven’t most of us had this moment after a break up? Do you still have that photograph? She follows this up with a line that is 100% comprehensible, “would you use it to hurt me?” a line that assumes the answer is, yes, I still have the photograph, and so I ask instead, why? And this should always be the question. This song is about reclaiming your body, separate from someone else, separate from a relationship, and yet, Julia sort of surrenders in this moment, with a bit of an, “oh well.” And while this is a familiar feeling, the sinking one you settle into after finding out your ex threw out the scrapbook you made for them, or donated the clothes you gave them or shared, I want to challenge this feeling, because it. is. your. body. Not just your body, but it is yours. And no one else has rights to it. And no one has the right to look at it without your consent. Including in photographs. So you reading this, throw out your ex’s nudes. Delete them. Burn them. And if you, reading this, know that your ex has your nudes, and that makes you uncomfortable, outsource any remaining trusted mutual contacts you have to solicit the deletion of yours. This is the “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” of voyeuristic consent post-breakup; let’s call it, “throw out your ex’s nudes, their body isn’t your property.”
Julia, girlfriend, I extend this offer to you. I don’t know who he is that led you to write Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You or Comfort, but if you need backup, I will record the parody song “throw out your ex’s nudes, their body isn’t your property” that either one of us can send his way and end the power play. Let’s Crush him.