On Tuesday, March 24th, Chastity Belt released their newest album Time to Go Home and hosted an awesome release concert at Everyday Music here in Capitol Hill. To commemorate the new album, the band played almost only songs from the new record. It was a really chill performance—one that gave tempted buyers the sign that Chastity Belt definitely bended more toward the “folk” side of the “folk-punk” spectrum this time around. Since it was my first time seeing the band, I was a bit upset not to hear more of their old songs. The concert, however, did get me really excited about the new CD, which has a quality that makes it sound really beautiful just by the sound alone.
The album opens with “Drone”. The track has a modest post-punk-y intro that gets abandoned the moment guitarist, Lydia Lung, steps in with her axe making chamber guitar strings that sometimes sound like they’re coming from a keyboard; a really nice incorporation for Chastity Belt’s folk-punk style. The line “just another man trying to teach me something” is a nice starting point for this album as it gets listeners re-acquainted with singer, guitar player, Julia Shapiro’s tendency to write lyrics that while are very vague and don’t reveal much about her, still offer a critical punch to listeners who can relate to what she may or may not be singing about.
The next song, “Trapped,” shows the band’s skill in mixing staccato beat music rhythms with their own explorative, signature improvisations. The track ends with each musician’s role becoming distinguishable and this adds to “Trapped”’s dynamic. Each piece is fantastic, yet no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t take my ear off from Lung’s contributions. Her stringing coming in sometimes very infrequently like a harp making you melt.
Next is “Why Try.” The songs happy guitar stringing and joyful drumming go beautifully with Shapiro’s desperate lyrics and vocals. This kind of “dancing in rain” atmosphere is always very successfully done performed by Chastity Belt. They manage to have a great time basking in and laughing about all the dumb, taxing and relentless shit life throws at you. When you compare “Why Try” with their older, similar themed tracks like “Healthy Punk” and “Nip Slip,” both from their previous album No Regerts, you notice that Chastity Belt have a talent for mixing sad-ass lyrics with an upbeat without sounding pretentious or inauthentic in any way.
All I want is for this band to coin the term “cool slut.” Watching Chastity Belt in their “Full House opening” themed music video for this track really kills you.
Then it’s “On The Floor.” The insidious title is not enough to change the jolly atmosphere the album was carrying. The vague but very implying lyrics are enough to give listeners insight on what the band considers as “time to go home.” For some of us, the lyrics, along with the subtle ticking guitar stringing and distortive waives near the end of the song, present a really familiar scenario involving some Weekend nights that we might not want to keep thinking about. Chastity Belt is as good at direct, musical punk entertainment as they are with delivering a message through capturing distinct themes in their music.
In “The Thing” the band finally gets loud. Kicking of The Thing with a welching scream.
With their folk tendencies, you forget the band members hold a variety of musical talent. Talent each one is so well versed in and confident with that they do not feel the need to showcase any of it and only call on their dynamic styles and experiences on rare occasion. As the lead of local, loud punk 3-piece project Childbirth, Shapiro has spent time wallowing in the louder crooks and venues Seattle has to offer—not just as an observer mind you—but as a headlining contributor. The Thing is 2 minute long horror theme park rollercoaster ride; the type that involve scary caves filled with holograms and evil laughter in the background. It appropriately ends with more welching screams.
“Lydia,” I think, is another track worth mentioning. Not really sure which of the members is singing on this. I would be surprised if it was still Shapiro. Whoever it is, they remind me of a sordid Frankie Cosmos. The song is very pleasant change of pace for the album even if the songs itself fits well with all the other tracks. Just goes to show what a difference Shapiro’s echoed vocals can make on the band’s aesthetic. This vocalist, however, whether is Lydia, Gretchen or Annie, definitely made the most of their space in the album (it could just very well be Julia and I’m just looking like a dumbass).
The video of the title track and single “Time to Go Home” has all the members out on Capitol Hill having a fun night with dudes chilling in the streets and shirtless drunks in bars. Following “IDC” as well as the major themes in the whole album, “Time to Go Home” wraps up pretty nicely this record’s overall message: our generation overhypes night life and substance abuse and considers both as not just forms of entertainment but ways to search for meaning or purpose; whether that purpose would be through romantic relationships and heartbreak or self-affirmation. “Time to Go Home” is the band’s nail on the head that such an endeavor for meaning through the medium of partying only encourages a cycle of endless, ill directed search; one that makes us think “everything is beautiful/ because we are delusional” until its “time to go home.”
Gabriel Ferri / Head Writer / Lydia’s #1 fan.