On this, their fourth album, Chastity Belt are in a contemplative mood. Guitars are gently, thoughtfully, strummed and lush harmonies mingle with the melody to create an album that is perfect for late summer 2019.
After their last album in 2017, the band deliberately created some headspace for themselves. They wanted to take some time out from the band, to work and live as individuals rather than as Chastity Belt. This decision led to some solo projects, most notably singer Julia Shapiro’s recent output, but also to a more personal introspection and development. The four members of Chastity Belt have brought this new sense of perspective the album, and it shows.
While sonically complex, the album sounds sparse and uncluttered, unhurried and pastoral, rather than urgent and urban. Opening track ‘Ann’s Jam’ reflects this with its gentle, almost meandering guitar sound, whereas the strings on ‘Effort’ weave in and out of the guitars like ribbons of sound. It’s a soothing sonic wave, a soundtrack of calm and thoughtful songwriting. It’s not as though the band have suddenly picked up acoustic guitars either, it’s just that the woven intricacies of their music balance out to such an extent that neither electric guitar nor drums dominate.
The slowly building ‘It Takes Time’ and the beautiful ‘Half-Hearted’ with its intricate, pretty guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies are both highlights, as are ’Effort’ and ‘Ann’s Jam’, but really, this is an album in the traditional sense: it has been made to be listened to in its entirety, over and over again, until it bleeds into your subconscious and becomes a part of you. It’s a masterpiece that will stand the test of time and will be listened to, and loved, for many years to come.
Chastity Belt is out 20th September via Hardly Art.