April 17, 2015

LP: Chastity Belt - Time to Go Home

Chastity Belt's here to take you home.

Being in your twenties is a confusing time. You’re told you’re an adult but no one explains how you’re supposed to transition from college (or teenage hood) to this island of maturity. It’s just expected and the result can feel like a spastic performance, one where you’re hoping the world will just buy your emotional growth. But in reality you’re freaking out, fucking up your taxes, trying to remember that you don’t need to be drinking like you’re in college anymore, and looking for ways to hide from your responsibilities. Particularly with women, there is the pressure to have it all together, to make it look easy and to not take up time with your struggles. These very common and yet often rarely discussed sentiments are the foundation for Chastity Belt’s newest release Time to Go Home. Time to Go Home is uncertain. It’s reassuring. It’s funny. It’s brave. It’s exasperated. It’s fun. It’s sad. If these qualities seem contradictory that’s the point: Welcome to growing up.

On opener “Drone,” surfy riffs cut through the track’s hazy atmosphere like moments of clarity peeking through a hangover. The hooks are punctuated with feminist ideals, but are very much infused with a realistic, “You have to laugh or you’d cry” approach. “He was just another man, trying to teach me something,” quotes vocalist Julia Shapiro in reference to Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? This is Chastity Belt’s feminism. Not one that stokes a fire but rather laughs at the depressing reality of the female condition. “Cool Slut” sounds like The Beach Boys as filtered through your babysitter. It’s sonically the most upbeat track on the record, and while not didactic, it says what every woman needs to hear at least once: “Ladies, it’s okay to be slutty.” On “The Thing,” Chastity Belt accomplishes for music what shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer did for TV. It correlates literal hell with growing up. Beginning with a blood-curdling scream and a heavy, distorted guitar, “The Thing,” pays homage to John Carpenter’s film of the same name with lyrics like, “it could be you or it could be me / one of us is the thing / no one trusts anyone / everyone’s infected.” Whether we’re talking creature feature or just the affliction of young adulthood, it’s familiar ground. But there’s no denying that Time to Go Home is summed up in its title track, the last on the record. It wades through the smeary guitars, heavy-hearted drums, and malaise-filled rhetoric in which Chastity Belt has come to find their home. But it doesn’t stop there. Time to Go Home culminates the only way it can, with those earlier lucid moments spiraling into a delirious vapor, urging you to check in with yourself. As they say earlier on “Lydia,” – “What is real? It’s what you feel.”


Listen to Chastity Belt on bandcamp.

Madeline Meyer, a Los Angeles transport to Philadelphia. She writes screenplays and plays guitar and sings in Littler. Her favorite things are olives, board games, and dad jokes.