Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: Hardly Art
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It took all of seventeen seconds for Chastity Belt's new record, Time to Go Home, to send shivers up my spine. Twenty more seconds passed before the goose bumps set in. At one minute and eight seconds, I stopped walking and felt compelled to say, to no one in particular, "Holy shit." And make no mistake, the power of this tour de force from these Walla Walla, Washington natives is not to be underestimated.
If you were just casually dropping in on Chastity Belt, you might well think the whole project to be some form of elaborate joke. For a start, there’s the absurdly retro-nerd styling of their press shots, and a name that could be viewed, if one thought about it, as a sly dig at the studied seriousness of Canadian 'future pop' duo Purity Ring. Then there’s their debut album No Regerts (typo intentional).
Plenty of bands defy easy categorization, but very few offer the puzzling approach to low-key punk rock as Seattle's Chastity Belt. Humor and sarcasm were big parts of the band's 2013 debut No Regerts. The intentionally misspelled title, sophomoric ally comedic lyrics, and goofy songs about sex and partying all pointed to a rambunctious and juvenile punk sound, but these immature sentiments were juxtaposed with Chastity Belt's woozy, midtempo musical backdrops.
The female foursome known as Chastity Belt have tapped into a balanced coolness that is somehow urgent while simultaneously aloof. On Time to Go Home, the band's second full-length album, the group explore themes of boredom, excess, promiscuity and anxiety with a certain melancholy that articulates the ambivalent attitudes of many post-adolescents. The energy in these songs is of a post-punk nature, and while Julia Shapiro's voice possesses an apathetic quality, the songs are full of purpose, empowered by interweaving guitars, unshakable drumming and tough, powerful bass lines.
In Sheila Heti’s 2012 highly autobiographical novel How Should a Person Be?, an artist named Margaux tells main character Sheila about a male painter she's struck up a correspondence with, exchanging tips over email. They seemed to be equals exchanging wisdom, Margaux says, except suddenly she realized they weren’t; she was starting to become more like him. "He’s just another man who wants to teach me something," Margaux says dismissively.
In the restrooms of dive bars around Seattle, you’ll find sloppily written graffiti on the walls bearing the words “cool slut.” Sometimes the phrase is by itself. Other times there’s an anecdote next to it (“sleeps with your boyfriend, but then feels super bad about it”). Whether Chastity Belt started this tag or adopted it as their own is almost irrelevant.
What’s a band photo have to do with a band? Besides stealing your soul, photos tend to unrealistically codify a moment, and the band photo, ever-cheesy and meme-like, will likely come back to haunt those it captures in its frame. I’ve always thought promotional shots were somewhat useless additions to a band’s pre-album-release self-mythologizing. Just another angle from which PR agencies can sell a record.
Nostalgia for the ‘90s isn’t exactly hard to come by in today’s musical climate, but few groups are as devoted to that time period as the all-female grunge act Chastity Belt, a group whose records sound so much like the early ‘90s that one half-expects to find out that they arrived in the present day after hitting 88 MPH in a Delorean back in 1993. It’s little surprise that they ended up on Sub Pop, as the possible time travelers would have been right at home on an early Singles Club release—possibly what they were on their way to record when lightning hit a clock tower at just the right time and sent them forward two decades. Although their previous album, the cheekily misspelled No Regerts, was released through indie label Help Yourself, their new home on Sub Pop’s Hardly Art imprint suits them much better.
In her memoir Girl In A Band, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon wrote that “When you listen to old R&B records, the women on them sang in a fierce, kick-ass way. In general, though, women aren’t really allowed to be kick-ass.” On their second album Time To Go Home, Seattle lo-fi guitarslingers Chastity Belt rage against this state of play. It’s a record about boredom, going out, partying, getting laid and the consequences of one’s actions, and more specifically, the imbalance in gender equality.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: catch up with Chastity Belt’s woozy feminism, Passion Pit’s uplifting candyfloss-pop and more.