Wise scholars say it takes seven seconds to receive an accurate first impression of a unaccustomed individual and in the case of Seattle four-piece Chastity Belt, many people’s first reaction would have been either shock, laughter or confusion. This is based on observing the violent carnivorous music video for early single “Black Sail“. The bewildered reaction stems from the fact that the song itself was indie-paced, full of peaceful humming and restricted in it’s barbaric power (despite the rest of the album fitting into the post-punk genre) and it had far dissemblance to death-themed heavy metal, which you would most associate with the graphics. It was this kind of sarcastic humour, mind-boggling playfulness and impulsive personality that shone through on the purposely-mispelt “No Regerts” and made them very likeable, fun, human and genuine.
Their goofy comedic slant also stretched into their promotion material which included ironic school-portraits that captured the girls as the perfect students academically good at sports, mathematics and orchestral instruments whilst also being portrayed as pony-loving princesses. When in truth they were writing masculine songs with ridiculously vulgar lyrics (“Giant Vagina”), sexual themes (“James Dean”), boozing, monsters (“Evil”) and don’t include the clarinet in their repertoire. All things a sophisticated mother would not approve of. Their music construction was also less calculated and more prone to hedonistic trial-and-error estimation that thrived in the spontaneous, including crisp-eating in the slang-incorporated “Nip Slip”.
Based on the album cover’s artwork and the music promo for single “Time To Go Home”, Chastity Belt return with their beloved flower-patterned couch, unique take on the riot girl genre and their party-loving free spirited attitude. Surprisingly though, the promo is mismatched to the music and lyrical nature of the title track to their new album. It’s melancholic with apathy, and snail-paced in all musical departments, including Julia Shapiro’s vocal delivery, which reaches a new level of stylistic sluggishness. Yet it picks up mildly with jagged rhythms and a new usage of backing harmonies, which also appear in “Lydia” and “Trapped“.
Lyrically, it hints at age-developing self-discipline in which the girls allow for a measured amount of alcohol consumption in their social gatherings but ultimately need to get home safely. A set of longer length tracks – “On The Floor“, “Joke“, “Drone” and “Lydia” – allow listeners to connect with the band better from a composition perspective and displays a more erudite and complete rock sound, which lacked in the disjointed debut.
One of the highlights from their first album was how amongst the mischief, they had all-to-brief instrumental jamming, which has now advanced in its quality, tricks and timing and can be effectively absorbing. It is particularly impressive in the Red Hot Chilli Peppers-esque “On The Floor”. Lyrically, it can be morbid too. Shapiro croons in said track: “I’m never satisfied, I keep feeding myself lies. When I realize we’re all alive, I feel like I could die“.
Yet on “Joke“, we are informed that “nothing is serious and everything is a joke” to math rock drumming, an indie-rock pace and a rhythm guitar. Further proof that Chastity Belt haven’t completely turned into grumpy elders with hateful eyes is heard in another indie-vibed (and similar to the slower moments in Artic Monkey’s “When The Sun Goes Down”) “Cool Slut“, which rather than contain misandrist layers of sarcasm exemplified in the equality explicit “Pussy Weed Beer“, speaks directly to their own gender suggesting “it’s ok to be slutty“.
Although the D-I-Y retro music video also pokes fun at the idea that being seductive is a natural aspect of a woman in a comical way with clumsy flirtations, stereotypes and awkwardness. It’s just their way of making a social statement and it shows the strong connection that the group has as a whole. Although “Drone” is another example of their indie softness (sounding like early Coldplay in atmosphere), Chasity Belt haven’t completely lost their outrageous punk edge. Out of the snow comes the grungy garage rock of “The Thing” which uses creepy guitars, suffocating layers and vocals that get lost in the wall of sound and transform into exaggerated horror screams.
The album isn’t completely satisfying from an entertainment perspective due to it’s in-distinctive temperament from track to track but repetition is expected in punk-inclined music. Patience is also needed as the band are still growing and living life to the fullest. What’s more important is the social commentary and unique personality of the musicians and thankfully Time To Go Home proves they are continue to possess those clinical attributes in opulence. Time To Go Home is out now on Hardly Art, purchase it here.
Words by Matt Hobbs