Julia Shapiro – Perfect Version
The new solo album from Chastity Belt's Julia Shapiro is a portrait in greyscale, dissecting the rules by which we live with nuance and compassion
How could things be different? Perfect Version, Julia Shapiro’s first solo album, cycles through hypothetical, unlikely solutions to a feeling of dislocation. Her whirring thoughts spin like a glitter ball, anxieties catching in the light.
For almost ten years Shapiro’s fronted the Washington state band Chastity Belt, and it was after a third album and a cancelled tour that she found herself seeking out some sort of change. She taught herself to mix and record, taking control of the tools to her music as a means of exploring her own place in the world, and within her own skin.
'How can somebody be so blindly confident? / I wanna know that trick', she asks on opening song Natural, before spiralling into the possibilities of a self-imposed exile: 'I’d like to learn a skill / Something useful / Then I’ll support myself, and I will buy a house / I’ll live alone in it / Somewhere out in the woods / And I’ll feel new again / I’ll be my own best friend'.
On I Lied, half-baked affirmations like 'I should really be more present' grate against sporadic, overwhelming existential dread ('What happens when we die?'), turning the album into a kind of anti-mantra. Perfect Version’s muted shoegaze feels like a weighted blanket, comforting and restrictive, but Shapiro’s sharply observed social commentary prevents the listener from wallowing. Occasional riffs soar skyward, as on A Couple Highs, offering moments of brightness between cracks in the clouds. Shapiro’s solo album is a portrait in greyscale, dissecting the rules by which we live with nuance and compassion.
Listen to: Natural, Shape, I Lied