Chastity Belt frontwoman Julia Shapiro knows all too well that identifying problems and addressing them are two very different things. Always self-diagnosing and rarely self-improving is a common quandary, and one that the band confronted on 2015’s ‘Time to Go Home’, a record which saw them dial down their eccentricities and deploy their guitar attack in search of more mature themes, a pursuit which continues on ‘I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone’.
The one-two punch of singles 'Different Now' and 'Caught In A Lie' starts the album off strongly with typically hazy guitars, bulging bass lines, and bonehead snare drumming, and 'This Time Of Night' zooms rapidly from crunchy garage rock to blurry atmospheric wasteland.
"I had a drink and ate some stuff, now I'm already bored" serves as a fitting thesis statement for the lethargic blankness of ‘Complain’, then there’s the acoustic skeleton that holds up 'What the Hell', where Shapiro mulls over the presence of an enabling partner with a despondent hook: “you tell me what I want to hear”.
Eventually, closing cut ‘5am’ floats in a bleary-eyed Smiths daze before being ignited by a wailing guitar solo in one of the record’s more inspired and spontaneous outbursts, but it does little to distract from the nagging sense that Chastity Belt largely elect to play it safe here. The same minimalist four-piece approach that made ‘No Regerts’ so novel and free-spirited feels thoroughly exhausted at this point; seldom do anything but guitars make it into the mix, and the experimental hunger on display is almost as absent and deadbeat as the lazy moods Shapiro constantly finds herself describing.
Having delivered two accomplished efforts in a row before this, Chastity Belt looked likely to push on to fresher, more innovative pastures. Instead, ‘I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone’ sees the Seattle group recede deeper into their comfort zone with a batch of tracks that are lukewarm at best.
Words: Noveen Bajpai
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