Release Date: Jun 2, 2017
Record label: Hardly Art
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Chastity Belt aren't a joke. They didn't start out as one, either. What they would have to concede, though, is that at one point in time, they might have wanted you to believe that. Their social media activity has always seen them keeping their collective firmly in cheek, and their lyrics in the early days were often throwaway - not least on their debut album, No Regerts, which had them playfully pulling apart the minutiae of life at and after university.
I'm a sucker for retro-sounding disenchantment that echoes pre-indiehype times. Though I must confess, I'd never paid much attention to Chastity Belt before. But there was something about the singles they dropped prior to the release of their third album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone that spoke directly to me, that made me remember things I never realised I had forgotten: it's like finding something you didn't think you had lost - you never look for it in the first place.
Walla Walla's finest Chastity Belt have long had a knack for tearing down gender's flimsy constructions with a toppling demolition ball of mockery. Their 'No Regerts' debut - complete with purposeful keyboard-bashing typos in the title - notably featured a joyful chant of "Pussy! Weed! Beer!" on its lyric sheet. Follow-up, 'Time To Go Home', took down slut-shaming and mansplaining with gleeful abandon.
The playful sexual politics and tongue-in-cheek jangle-pop that marked Seattle's Chastity Belt had has been rendered effectively mute on the band's third album, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. Whether or not 2017 is the year of getting serious while the country seems on the verge of downfall could be irrelevant here. But the level of somber studies on emotional development and sincerity in an uncertain era seems too big a coincidence to ignore.
When we last heard from Chastity Belt, the band asked, "Is it cool to care?" The answer was the only response a group with songs like "Pussy Weed Beer" could deliver: "I don't care." Answering the same question in 2017, Chastity Belt might direct you to the lyrics of the new record's abbreviated title track, "Used to Spend." "I wanna have some self-control/I wanna be sincere," Julia Shapiro sings. Being Chastity Belt, this follows an opening line about talking trash and acting dumb. Shapiro's wry humor and deadpan delivery carry the introspective lyrics without undercutting them, but LP3 for the Seattle band does take a darker tone than the previous two.
Emo might be a safe haven for the sad kids, but it doesn't often reflect the day-to-day drudgery of mind-crushing depression, which sounds less like screaming and more like the final whimper you emit before finally becoming part of the floor. Leave that to shoegaze or post-punk, or to the tuneful mark between the two that Seattle rock band Chastity Belt hits on their third album. Though it's buffered with slices of relative optimism--opener "Different Now" lays out a few answers to what band wrestles with for the rest of the album--I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone curls into dark corners, exploring the depths of desperation and self-loathing that Chastity Belt only hinted at on their last two albums.
Seattle's Chastity Belt made a splash in 2015 with their sophomore full-length release Time to Go Home, whose goofy, sex-positive lyrics and post-punk style set the band apart from the indie scene. For their third LP, the foursome dive a bit deeper to unveil the insecurities that surface after parties end, when friends go home. I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is an accurate depiction of the lull and forced introspection that follows the second adolescence that is early adult independence; new desires emerge, and on this record, it seems that Chastity Belt wish to be taken more seriously -- both by themselves and others.
It's never a comforting experience when musicians instill an overall feeling of abjection. Even if it constitutes the truest of emotions, it's as if we expect the artist to show face with a false sense of liveliness. That's certainly never been the case with Chastity Belt, given that their previous two releases, Time to Go Home and No Regerts, touched on hard and honest truths with a poignant balance of indifference and defiant awareness.
Seattle post-punk rockers Chastisty Belt have become known for their blend of Riot Grrl-style politics and irreverent humour. However, their third album sees them take a leap of faith towards a more melancholy tone, stripping back the irony and the brashness to get at something a lot more tender. The album title I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone sets the key for the record as a whole, and refers to lead singer Julia Shapiro's feelings of loneliness before joining the band and forming a tight friendship with the other members.
Chastity Belt frontwoman Julia Shapiro knows all too well that identifying problems and addressing them are two very different things. Always self-diagnosing and rarely self-improving is a common quandary, and one that the band confronted on 2015's 'Time to Go Home', a record which saw them dial down their eccentricities and deploy their guitar attack in search of more mature themes, a pursuit which continues on 'I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone'. The one-two punch of singles 'Different Now' and 'Caught In A Lie' starts the album off strongly with typically hazy guitars, bulging bass lines, and bonehead snare drumming, and 'This Time Of Night' zooms rapidly from crunchy garage rock to blurry atmospheric wasteland.
Chastity Belt are known for songs like “IDC” and “Pussy Weed Beer”; through two records of youthful, girlcore angst, they’ve proved nowhere near as wholesome or chaste as their namesake. On their new record, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, though, the urgency and fearlessness of those records has given way to maturity, that difficult-to-master emotion of one-time hellraisers. But where else are you supposed to go after “Pussy Weed Beer”? In the press release, the Washington band asked that I Used To Spend be described as "v chill," which is hard to disagree with.