Thick, impenetrable and oppressive are not the most cheering adjectives when applied to music, yet in the case of Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro, I use them in a positive sense.
Having relocated from Seattle’s chill to warmer Los Angeles, only to find herself alone in lockdown, the singer-songwriter and musician decided to channel such feelings into her first solo album. And it’s gorgeous, featuring mood swings which are nonetheless shimmering and witty, lucidly encapsulating the ennui of lockdown. She’s referencing bad television, empty hours and the tedium of the last two years with a sly wink.
This is best exemplified by the opening line in Do Nothing About It: “looking at the world through shit coloured glasses”.
Wrong Time is a murky wall of reverby guitars and there’s a nod to the Faith era of The Cure in Come With Me.
Indeed, dream pop and Goth indie looms large here. The acoustic ambient prettiness of Reptile Reptile wouldn’t sound out of place on a This Mortal Coil album, and Pure Bliss has the FX pedals and sexy dreaminess of the best of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins.
But there are sunny interludes cutting through the gloom – Hellscape is especially lovely, in spite of its title, and the title track has twinkling keyboards – and Shapiro’s girly purr and sweet guitar picking ensure it’s no mere misery fest.
Her lyrics are often laugh out loud funny as well. There’s nothing like well-crafted sarcasm to keep us all going. Well, duh: no shit, Sherlock.