Chastity Belt

Chastity Belt

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Chastity Belt haven't really changed that much since they released their first album, No Regerts, in 2013, but the changes they have made mean a great deal. Where they previously sounded at once rough and languid, they've grown into a band whose instrumental interplay is artful without seeming pretentious, and the dry snarky wit that was a large part of their early work has faded into the middle distance as their lyrics explore more personal and introspective themes. 2019's Chastity Belt, the group's self-titled fourth album, is still clearly the work of the same band, but this music doesn't shout, it insinuates, and the tone of the conversation is intelligent and unguarded. On Chastity Belt, Julia Shapiro's lyrics are full of musings about her life and her circumstances dotted with details about CDs that skip in the car, needing a new bike, or the judgmental look from a friend who knows you're hung over. The stories feel honest, and are more effective for it. There are moments on Chastity Belt where the volume and distortion turn up and add some dynamic texture to the melodies (especially on "It Takes Time"), but even when this music drifts along on its own momentum, the guitar patterns from Shapiro and Lydia Lund -- drummer Gretchen Grimm also adds guitar on a few tracks -- mesh beautifully, with the whole much more than the individual parts. With Grimm and bassist Annie Truscott holding down the bottom end with a subtle but sure hand, this is music that takes its time but is never less than absorbing and rewards repeated listening. Chastity Belt's musical evolution has been a fascinating and rewarding thing to witness, and this may be their smartest and most compelling music to date.

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