Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Chastity Belt Live Laugh Love

Suicide Squeeze
Suicide Squeeze

Since their inception in 2010, Chastity Belt have put out four records that balance the pain of existence with lighthearted humor. The Seattle band’s 2013 debut No Regerts leaned into hedonism with indie earworms that flirted with punk, with song titles like “Giant Vagina,” “Nip Slip,” and “Pussy Weed Beer.” Their latest LP, 2019’s self-titled was emotionally heavier in contrast, with only one silly name: “Pissed Pants.” Their newest album is back to being quintessential Chastity Belt, and it’s called Live Laugh Love.

The lineup of Chastity Belt has never changed: Julia Shapiro on vocals and guitar, Lydia Lund on guitar, Annie Truscott on bass, and Gretchen Grimm on drums. However, Live Laugh Love is their first album where everyone does vocals: Lund sings on “Funny” and “I-90 Bridge,” Truscott on “Kool-Aid,” and Grimm on “Tethered.” “Tethered” also has backing vocals from Shapiro and Truscott, their voices all coalescing at the end to form a haunting storm of an outro. Chastity Belt have always felt like a band, but taking turns with vocals proves their devotion to friendship and fluidity rather than following the rules.

Shapiro argues that the title Live Laugh Love isn’t entirely sarcastic, because “the songs are sort of about living, laughing, and loving,” she told Dork in an interview. Though most fans hold No Regerts as their opus, their most popular song is “Different Now,” a shoegazey self-reflection from 2017’s I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone. Who could have predicted that the goofballs once known for singing about pussy, weed, and beer would end up being appreciated for introspection? “We weren’t necessarily confident in what we were doing, so we’d joke about it,” Shapiro explained about their evolution in that same interview. “I don’t think I would have started playing music in a band that was really serious in the beginning; I needed that space to joke around and have it be fun before I could be confident enough to write a more serious song.”

Album opener “Hollow” immediately showcases the band’s ability to succinctly communicate the most prevalent, inexplicable problems of life: “Free will doesn’t feel free/ Anymore,” Shapiro sings on the breezy, twinkling track. About “Hollow,” Shapiro said, “The older I get, the more I realize that I might just always feel this way, and it’s more about sitting with the feeling and accepting it, rather than trying to fight it. I’m still here, doing my thing, whatever that is.” This feeling of stagnancy reverberates through the meandering guitars, which build and build in the chorus before returning back to their pleasant, predictable pace.

Along with universal truths, Live Laugh Love is speckled with casually relatable moments. On “Blue,” Shapiro drawls, “Man, it feels good to be alive/ And in a moment/ It all could end/ I gotta get off the internet.” She opens the eerie “Chemtrails” with the detached narration: “I’m always saying yes/ But when it comes around/ I don’t wanna leave my house.” Instead of cracking a joke to lift the mood, she dissects the darkness: “Someone like me can’t let go of anything/ Moments move like chemtrails in my mind/ Now I want more, thinking I deserve less/ Apathy is difficult to hide,” Shapiro sings with resignation, an admirable confession — confronting one’s own jaded attitude instead of playing it off or turning to irony.

Sincerity is what gives power to “Laugh,” a plea to be freed from one’s mind and live in an uncomplicated moment of glee with friends. “Remember that summer we spent living instead/ I wanted it to last, but it’s all in my head,” Shapiro sings, a sentiment whose meaning is amplified by the fact that she’s playing alongside her friends, reminiscing with them in the room and contemplating what’s been lost. “Clumsy” is a dejected eulogy for a relationship, encapsulating the sensation of not even having the energy to be sad: “You were clumsy with your heart and/ It was doomed right from the start/ It’s kind of tragic, but it’s fine/ I don’t mind.”

On the meditative “It’s Cool,” Shapiro questions the point of everything, coming to the conclusion: “Nothing that I do or say today/ Will mean a thing/ But I’m not that devastated.” Afterward, she repeats the phrase “It’s cool,” the only realistic outcome of grappling with things that are out of one’s control. Though it’s not necessarily convincing, it’s a good mantra that sums up the appeal of Chastity Belt; they’re not afraid to portray the hard parts of life, but they’re not going to dwell on the bad for too long or act like the world is ending. Shapiro will repeat it’s cool until she believes it. Even if she doesn’t, at least she’ll get some great songs out of it.

Live Laugh Love is out 3/29 via Suicide Squeeze Records.

Other albums out this week:
• Beyoncé’s Act II: Cowboy Carter
• Sheryl Crow’s Evolution
• Ride’s Interplay
• The High Llamas’ Hey Panda
• Shabazz Palaces’ Exotic Birds Of Prey
• Kelly Moran’s Moves In The Field
• h. pruz’s No Glory
• Frail Body’s Artificial Bouquet
• A Country Western’s Life On The Lawn
• Jim White’s All Hits: Memories
• Gesaffelstein’s GAMMA
• VIAL’s burnout
• Machinedrum’s 3FOR82
• Ed Harcourt’sEl Magnifico
• Rage’s Afterlifelines
• Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ Revelations
• Sum 41’s Heaven :x: Hell
• gglum’s The Garden Dream
• Harmless’ Springs Eternal
• The Secret Sisters’ Mind, Man, Medicine
• Peel’s Acid Star
• Alejandro Escovedo’s Echo Dancing
• Holiday Ghosts’ Coat Of Arms
• Halo Maud’s Celebrate
• Teens In Trouble’s What’s Mine
• Non La’s Like Before
• Lindsey Lomis’ Handle With Care
• Reyna Tropical’s Malegría
• Roc Marciano’s Marciology
• Machine Gun Kelly & Trippie Redd’s Genre: Sadboy
• NØ MAN’s Glitter And Spit
• Blu DeTiger’s All I Ever Want Is Everything
• Arushi Jain’s Delight
• Dawn Landes’ The Liberated Woman’s Songbook
• Sarah King’s When It All Goes Down
• CNTS’ Thoughts & Prayers
• Candi Carpenter’s Demonology
• Texas & Spooner Oldham’s The Muscle Shoals Sessions
• Mutilation Barbecue’s Amalgamations Of Gore
• The Church’s Eros Zeta And The Perfumed Guitars
• Coffins’ Sinister Oath
• Dent May’s What’s For Breakfast?
• Grackles’ Grackles
• J-Hope’s Hope On The Street Vol. 1
• Omar Souleyman’s Erbil
• Bianca Scout’s Pattern Damage
• Iron Axxis’ 2286
• Sematary’s Bloody Angel
• Nite Fleit’s BM12
• Urvanovic’s Let’s Not Be Here
• Room 31’s Crazy Town
• Magana’s Teeth
• Various Artists’ HIXTAPE Vol. 3: DIFFTAPE
• Rico Nasty & Boys Noize’s HVRDCORE DR3AMZ EP
• Puscifer, Primus, & A Perfect Circle’s Sessanta E.P.P.P. EP
• fanclubwallet’s Our Bodies Paint Traffic Lines EP
• Good Kid’s Good Kid 4 EP
• Saya Gray’s QWERTY II EP
• Cinders’ Going Nowhere EP

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