In a sentence:
On their self-titled fourth album, Chastity Belt fully and expertly embrace the more mature, anxious sound they began exploring last time out.
The hiatus that Chastity Belt announced just over a year ago didn’t end up lasting long – the industrious Washington quartet’s fourth studio album has appeared just over 24 months after their previous outing I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, the exhausting and lengthy tour of which reportedly left the band jaded. Just like its predecessor (and like Julia Shapiro’s compellingly raw solo debut Perfect Version, released a mere matter of months ago) the themes of Chastity Belt concern anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the process of growing up, and how to do it with dignity and security. The sense of gradual evolution in Chastity Belt’s sound continues here, with their fuzzed-out guitar tones bolstered with the gentle, non-intrusive introduction of strings and keyboards, something brought out by Melina Duterte (a.k.a. Jay Som) behind the production desk.
the sense of drift and monotony that crept into their last album has been
arrested and transformed into a focussed and consistent sound, which entirely
leaves behind the lo-fi, spiky and humorous disposition that informed their
first two records. The spirit of those albums remains, however, largely in the
wryness of Shapiro’s lyrics, which often seem like a train of thought, or
internal monologue, as she interacts with the world. Those lyrics are set to
undulating, gently unwinding soundscapes that seem to suggest calm and soothing,
but ultimately don’t offer a resolution.
with the mellow meandering of ‘Ann’s Jam’, reminiscent
of latter-day Pavement, Chastity Belt establishes a mood and luxuriates
within it for its entirety. On the likes of ‘Split’ and ‘Apart’, the sunny disposition
of the music is rendered ambiguous by Shapiro’s performance, in a similar
manner to Real Estate’s best albums. ‘It Takes Time’ is optimistic
yet sanguine about the nature of growing up and embracing responsibility. Lead
inspired by the quartet’s mutual love for novelist Elena Ferrante and her preoccupation
with generations of family, and ‘Rav-4’,
a dreamy reminisce about days gone by, never to be recaptured, also define
where Chastity Belt are now. On closer ‘Pissed Pants’, Shapiro wonders
aloud in a manner of somebody beyond her years (“now I’m obsessing over
endings / and all the things that are holding me back”).
between knowing that certain things must be left behind, of not necessarily
having the emotional resources to cope with those transitions (yet) but accepting
that that’s okay, is the thematic headspace for Chastity Belt, an album
in which the band fully embrace the next stage of their career.The ode
to youth that was nailed so perfectly first time out on No Regerts has gradually
given way to a more melodic, richer sound, leading to this place of self-acceptance.
(8/10) (Ed Biggs)
Listen to Chastity Belt by Chastity Belt here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Annie Truscott, Chastity Belt, Ed Biggs, Gretchen Grimm, Hardly Art, Julia Shapiro, Lydia Lund, review
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