Published Sep 17, 2019In the autumn of their musicianhood, Chastity Belt's fourth record is a transition from the band's summer adolescence into an approaching wintered maturity. The band have gone through an immense metamorphosis since their earlier works, and on their latest album, they remain worthy contenders in the highly saturated dream pop wheelhouse.
Though the change in the Seattle four-piece's style is significant, the band have managed to stay true to their roots. They're a far cry from their "Cool Slut" days, but in their latest record, they've materialized what it means to be Chastity Belt in 2019: they're still cool, but without being aloof, silly without being ditsy. And they're ready to say goodbye to their youth.
Chastity Belt hovers in a hazy cloud above its contemporaries, a space the band have been happy to occupy for a while. They're clearly set on doing whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want. But don't be fooled — the album isn't the same brand of young, brash femininity the band have come to represent. It's a much softer, more considered album compared to No Regerts or Time to Go Home. They haven't abandoned their political senses, no, but they have moved into a new gentler phase. The elements that stay the same are their intentionality, their honesty and their vulnerability.
Ten tracks in length, Chastity Belt is at its peak in songs like "Rav-4," "Elena" and "Drown," where we're brought back down to earth by sullen crooning and fuzzed-out, sour guitar riffs. On "Ann's Jam," frontwoman Julia Shapiro takes us back nearly a decade — before the proliferation of nostalgia-gleaning apps like Instagram. And yet we are presented with an almost retro image of listening to burned CDs in her parents' car, taking a road trip down south with a friend. The image is bittersweet — beautiful but gone.
There's a certain mourning that Chastity Belt bring to the forefront on this self-titled album. All that is lost in youth can never be retrieved, but in a way, they've harnessed some part of the past, while taking pause for recognition that it may be gone forever. (Hardly Art)