Chastity Belt have chosen to dive headfirst into maturity on their third album, 2017's I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, which seems somehow antithetical for a band that titled its debut album No Regerts. But from the first track onward, it's clear this band has set out in a different direction; the punky energy of its early work has subsided, as has the goofy sense of humor that once marked its lyrics. This time out, lead vocalist Julia Shapiro has turned her lyrical gaze inward, discussing her anxieties, her doubts, and her troubles relating to others, and while there are still glimmers of razor-sharp wit to be found in these tunes, it's obvious that this time around, she isn't kidding. Considering the level of cheerful snot on their debut album, Shapiro's openness, vulnerability, and bursts of bitterness feel remarkably brave, as she bares her soul without hesitation. And as the lyrics reveal a different side of Chastity Belt, the music on I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is more measured and contemplative than before. These melodies are dominated by cool, understated indie rock, with Shapiro and Lydia Lund weaving their guitar figures into a whole that's more than the sum of its parts, and bassist Annie Truscott and drummer Gretchen Grimm drive these performances with understated force, whether the mood is languid (on "It's Obvious") or fierce ("5am"). If Chastity Belt are a different band on their third album, they're still strong, passionate, and compelling, and this music engages the listener with its intelligence, honesty, and lean but muscular sound. Growing up is working out well for Chastity Belt, and I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is clever, satisfying proof.
© Mark Deming /TiVo