Chastity Belt

Time to Go Home

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Plenty of bands defy easy categorization, but very few offer the puzzling approach to low-key punk rock as Seattle's Chastity Belt. Humor and sarcasm were big parts of the band's 2013 debut No Regerts. The intentionally misspelled title, sophomoric ally comedic lyrics, and goofy songs about sex and partying all pointed to a rambunctious and juvenile punk sound, but these immature sentiments were juxtaposed with Chastity Belt's woozy, midtempo musical backdrops. Vulgar lyrics were delivered in a dreggy croon by vocalist/guitarist Julia Shapiro, and obnoxious inside jokes were often hidden under gentle sheets of Sonic Youth-esque patch works of interwoven guitars. Second album Time to Go Home takes the band's unique blend of beauty and absurdity into slightly different places. Still intact is their weird blend of ridiculous lyrical passages and serious, even somewhat reserved playing. Standout tune "Joke" buries lyrics about wanting to start fires beneath sublime interlocking guitar patterns and a driving, extended jam that builds as the song goes on. "Cool Slut" is similar, delivering lyrics about sex-positive attitudes in a tune so smooth and beguiling it's hard to know if the song and its characters are intended as parody or not. Separating the silly from the sincere is harder on Time to Go Home because the Chastity Belt have grown since their debut, evidenced in more emotionally open moments amid the songs about drunken adventures and tongue-in-cheek ennui. The lazy drift of "On the Floor" hints at genuine feelings of post-college displacement and album-opener "Drone" reappropriates a line from author Sheila Heti's novel How Should a Person Be for the chorus. "He was just another man trying to teach me something" imbues the song with a directly feminist push that was sometimes just hinted at with a smirk on the first record. The band's melding of flip humor and beautifully crafted dream punk is an odd one, but works better on the more intricate arrangements of Time to Go Home than it did on the sometimes silly No Regerts. Depending on what aspect of the band the listener pays the most attention to, Chastity Belt can be either brazenly hilarious or mysterious and moving.

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