Chastity Belt – Chastity Belt

The fourth LP from Seattle four-piece Chastity Belt is a gentle ode to the potency of self-care

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 17 Sep 2019
  • Chastity Belt – Chastity Belt
Album title: Chastity Belt
Artist: Chastity Belt
Label: Hardly Art
Release date: 20 Sep

There was a satisfying arc to the first three Chastity Belt records. The deliberately misspelt title of their debut, No Regerts, set the tone for it; they were playful, painting a carefree picture of college life in Seattle – parties, breezing around campus, the responsibility-free golden hour that a lack of responsibility offers up. There wasn’t a great deal of evidence that more lay below the surface until they followed it with Time to Go Home in 2015. An album richer, more melodic, and that was beginning to muse upon a deeper subject matter, opener Drone skewered mansplaining before the term had even been coined.

Then, two years ago, the mask slipped again and this time, they didn’t bother picking it up and putting it back. I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is one of the great treatises on post-collegiate malaise, a beautifully bleak reflection on mid-20s aimlessness. It sounds like an existential crisis and, by the sounds of it, might have triggered one; last year, they cancelled a slew of tour dates as singer Julia Shapiro was hit by a crippling double whammy of a serious health scare and a depression-inducing breakup.

That Shapiro has overcome both to produce two of this year’s finest albums suggests that she may, in fact, be Superwoman. June’s gorgeously raw solo LP Perfect Version was one thing, but this self-titled fourth Chastity Belt LP is quite another. The stormy atmosphere that defined their last, one that occasionally threatened to suffocate, has been lifted; instead, the guitars are woozy, the melodies are airy and the songs are all given room to breathe. Lyrically, meanwhile, Shapiro zeroes in on self-acceptance and serenity. In that respect, It Takes Time perhaps acts as the emotional axis, but the softly determined Split and the knowing melancholy of Rav-4, which gently skewers picket fence, middle class aspiration, also play key roles in shaping the album’s thematic progression. 

Most crucially, Chastity Belt is proof positive that bands don’t need to simply spin the wheels when they’re going through periods of transition, waiting for the solid ground to return beneath their feet before they get going again. Instead, they can find sanctuary in their work. That’s precisely what Chastity Belt have done – they’ve produced a gorgeous ode to the power of self-care.

Listen to: Elena, It Takes Time, Rav-4