Chastity Belt I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone Hardly Art
Chastity Belt’s third album cuts straight to the bone. Open-ended questions and universal anxieties are shared like a cigarette between friends on a park bench; they won’t philosophise on the answers to life’s largest worries, but they’ll take the time to talk about them. Chastity Belt have always been bittersweet and smart. The Seattle band’s 2013 debut, the ridiculously titled No Regerts, had a chirpy, surf-rock façade coupled with slurry one-liners. ”I’m so drunk/ I just want some chips and dip/ chips and dip!” went Nip Slip, for example. 2015’s Time to Go Home captured the highs and lows of partying too hard, without apology and often with unbridled joy, exploring vulnerabilities that their first record skimmed over.
For I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, they worked with producer Matthew Simms (of veteran post-punk band Wire) in Jackpot! studios, Portland – where Sleater Kinney, Sonic Youth and, famously, Elliott Smith once recorded. It’s by far their most serious album to date. This Time of Night and Stuck deal in insomniac fears and quiet, crushing indecisions. On the former, singer and guitarist Julia Shapiro asks, “How do I get out of here? I don’t know”, while the latter shrugs off the fuzz and shifts a gear, finding momentum and as drummer Gretchen Grimm, who wrote and sings on the track, “leaves it up to fate”. Concise, thoughtful and kind, I Used To… sees Chastity Belt offer solidarity rather than solutions. Something Else states, with dead-pan sincerity, “I wanna do something cool/ and I wanna get paid/ and wake up feeling good every day/ Is that too much to ask?/ Maybe I’m an idiot”, while the near-title track I Used To lights sparks in the gloom. It also captures a point that Shapiro’s reiterated in interviews and press releases – and the point that underpins this record. Before Chastity Belt, she was lonely. The best bands can fix that.