Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - MUSIC REVIEWS - Chastity Belt { Hardly art records } —nitzan pincu

In one of her ’90s-era fanzines, Kath­leen Hanna stated that we should all be as vul­ner­a­ble as pos­si­ble, sug­gest­ing that vul­ner­a­bil­ity is an as­set. The Seat­tle-based quar­tet Chastity Belt seem to fol­low this ad­vice on their third al­bum, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. While the band is known for its witty, funny fem­i­nist an­thems, this al­bum is pro­foundly sad and seems haunted by a feel­ing of loss or de­pri­va­tion, its sooth­ing melodies and melan­choly riffs ex­plor­ing the dif­fer­ent ways life be­trays us as we age. Through­out the al­bum, vo­cal­ist/gui­tarist Ju­lia Shapiro voices the heart­break­ing dis­ap­point­ments of adult­hood, in­clud­ing the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion’s re­al­iza­tion that there is no job se­cu­rity in our near fu­ture. (“I wanna do some­thing cool and I wanna get paid/ And wake up feel­ing great ev­ery day, is that too much to ask?” she sings on “Some­thing Else.”)

The al­bum has an un­der­tow of yearn­ing for con­nec­tion and over­com­ing the fear of self-ex­po­sure, some­thing most peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence as they age. Its ti­tle track bravely ex­plains: “I’d ask you to stay/ But my pride is too strong/ I would rather be alone than ask for what I want.” This is a bold move on the band’s part, and a dar­ing change of ma­te­rial. Up un­til re­cently it seemed that Chastity Belt was de­ter­mined not to be taken too se­ri­ously. The four­some’s first al­bum, No Re­grets, in­cluded play­ful lyrics such as “I’m a gi­ant vagina” and “I’m so drunk/ I just want some chips and dip/ Chips and dip/ Nip slip.” The silli­ness and hu­mor helped ef­fec­tively con­vey a fem­i­nist mes­sage; on “Cool Slut,” for in­stance, the band re­claimed the once shame­ful term and ap­plauded girls who act on their sexual de­sires.

I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is more mel­low, with dream-pop and shoegaze in­flu­ences that evoke the bit­ter­sweet­ness of child­hood mem­o­ries, most no­tably on “Stuck.” Shapiro’s singing re­mains clear and poignant over mas­ter­ful riffs and steady yet cre­ative drum­ming. The al­bum holds the strange com­fort of iden­ti­fy­ing with the bat­tles of still grow­ing up while grow­ing old, fol­lowed by a cer­tain type of pain—the kind you feel in the pit of your stom­ach when you fi­nally re­al­ize some­thing terrible that you some­how knew all along. Adult­hood can’t change things for you; you have to change them for your­self.

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