You Really Need To Take Chastity Belt Seriously

If Sleater-Kinney had younger sisters who formed a band, they wouldn’t be Chastity Belt.  Oh sure, on the Seattle quartet’s excellent first album, No Regerts,there are moments when the music bounces with the same trampoline dynamics as their forebears’, and even on the amazing Time To Go Home, out this past week, you can hear the occasional echo of their Pacific Northwest sisters.  But Chastity Belt deserves to be taken seriously, and on their own.

The first strummed chords of “Drone,” which opens the new one, make you think you’re about to be immersed in a Galaxie 500 album, and like Dean Wareham, clearly Julia Shapiro, who writes and sings and plays guitar, is an admirer of the way Joy Division/New Order constructed songs: several begin with a lead baseline upon which gorgeous chords are neatly layered while an intricate lead guitar soon picks its way through the melody. On their second album, they may still have songs entitled “Cool Slut,” which at least is a topical step up from songs entitled “Pussy Weed Beer,” and “Nip Slip.”  But what marks Chastity Belt as a band that is going to take us all on a ride through third, fourth, and fifth albums in which their grasp will stay in tandem with their ambitious reach is how relaxed and confident they are as musicians, the drums always hitting the beat at just the last moment, Shapiro’s contralto refusing to be rushed.

In publicity pictures, they play up the concept of nerdy post-teenagers, but Chastity Belt has a mature sound, minor chords underlying surprising melodic depth. While occasionally one could hope for an alternative to Shapiro’s voice, which maintains a constant pitch across two album’s worth of songs, the interplay between the guitars will brighten the smile of anyone who has ever loved Luna, or Real Estate.

Just listen to the title track, which contains all the goodies these young women put on display. Some great bands begin so strong you are utterly beguiled even as — while devouring those first great records — you despair of what they might come out with when the novelty wears off.  With Chastity Belt, having produced such a brilliant sophomore outing in Time To Go Home, we can only count the days ’til the next one comes out.

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