Chastity Belt’s 'Time to Go Home,' An Appreciation

Chastity Belt’s 'Time to Go Home,' An Appreciation
Courtesy Photo Time to Go Home, by Chastity Belt, released March 2015 on Hardly Art Records.

Courtesy Photo
Time to Go Home, by Chastity Belt, released March 2015 on Hardly Art Records.

I have a new crush, and they are the indie rockers of Chastity Belt.

Their latest record, Time to Go Home, would’ve been one of my favorite albums of 2015 had I heard it last year. It’s been hitting me hard of late — every bit as hard as the Kurt Vile, Tame Impala, and Father John Misty records did last year.

A little context: These girls started playing music together while attending Whitman College, a private liberal arts college in Walla Walla, Wash., a little town in the state’s middle-of-nowhere southeast corner.

They started as an intentionally rebellious party-punk band. They really liked to drink and hook up — as did their collegiate audience — and that’s what they wrote about. They aimed to playfully celebrate that. They wanted the world to know that they were four girls who had every right to act just like the boys. The title of their first album, No Regerts [sic] from 2013, encapsulates their core message, as do songs like “Nip Slip” and “Giant Vagina.”

To be clear, this isn’t a Tenacious D record. It’s not irreverent for the sake of being so. It’s rebellious, feisty, witty, fun, and punk because, well, why not? Critics called it subversively feminist and naturally lumped the band into the so-called Riot Grrrl movement, which I gather they embraced. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be associated with Helium, Wild Flag, and Sleater-Kinney and be called role models for young women?

And then the girls kinda grew up, as we all tend to do when the realities of life start hitting us post-college. They didn’t stop partying (why would they?), but they realized — as most of us do — that that stuff tends to have a limited shelf life. They looked back at their youth and started reassessing things a bit. They got reflective. They realized that that one guy they slept with on that one night after that one rager in that one town wasn’t that great — in fact, he was “just another man trying to teach me something.”

And so they wrote Time to Go Home. Again, the title kinda says it all. They relocated to Seattle. They toned down their shock value, turned up the jangle and the reverb, and kept all of the punk. They didn’t abandon their message in No Regerts, as songs like “Cool Slut” attest. They just put a new twist on it. A more mature, simple-yet-thoughtful take on it. Time to Go Home is not about forgetting the destructive parts of your past, or even overcoming them. It’s just about accepting them. The album proves that you can be reflective and confused and confident and self-conscious and high and sober and promiscuous and prude and whatever-the-hell-you-wanna-be and still be punk rock. Because really, it’s all in your attitude and execution.

The record’s defining moment comes at the end of side A. In “On the Floor,” lead singer/guitarist Julia Shapiro is lying down, staring at the ceiling, pondering all the lies she now realizes she’s been told. She wants more. She feels like she could die, “but it’s fine.” In her dream, all of her friends are with her, and that comforts her, but still, she wants more. She doesn’t know what she wants, but that’s okay — for now it’s sufficient just to realize she’s not satisfied and is able and willing to accept that stirring. Halfway through this 6-minute song, the lyrics stop and the music soft-rocks the listener to the end. It sounds like Real Estate’s more contemplative side — melodic and monotonous and calming.

Then, at the beginning of Side B, the band drops the figurative hammer. One of the girls screams, and the band launches into “The Thing,” a scorcher that wouldn’t be out of place on Nirvana’s In Utero: “No one trusts anyone…Everyone’s infected…You’ll get torched if you don’t pass the test.” Did I mention these ladies are pretty punk?

Recommended if you like: Best Coast, Colleen Green, Sleater-Kinney, DIIV, Real Estate, Teenagers

Score: 4/5

Categories: Music