Chastity Belt Embrace Sincerity on 'Live Laugh Love'

BY Dylan BarnabePublished Mar 26, 2024


Live, Laugh, Love — a throwaway joke that became real somewhere along the line. The trite saying has long been the subject of both simple adoration and total abhorrence; for many, the only way to interact with it is with a healthy dose of irony. But on their fifth album, Chastity Belt embrace the mantra with a surprising sincerity.

Chastity Belt — vocalists and guitarists Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund, drummer Gretchen Grimm and bassist Annie Truscott — have built an enduring bond across five albums and 13 years of friendship. It's the kind of closeness that's yielded a deep and intuitive understanding of one another, and led to some of the band's most enmeshed work on their latest album, Live Laugh Love. Recorded over three years, it's a celebration of friendship without any pretence — an album that delights in the band's shared passion for making music and comfort in each other's presence: they swap instruments, lend a hand at songwriting, and, for the first time, each take a turn on the mic.  

Unsurprisingly, Chastity Belt go back to the well of existentialism to haul up new meditations on feeling numb, lacking direction and searching for meaning off the internet: "Waiting for some sign / Wasting time," Shapiro sings on opener "Hollow," setting the stage for Live Laugh Love's meditations on the unrelenting passage of time and general malaise of adulthood. Revelatory personal limitations ("I'm the one who's holding me back") and delusions ("I wanted it to last, but it's all in my head") unfold naturally without accusation.

The band pose questions like, "Why does everything normal feel so bad" and "What do I hold on to? / Or do I just let go?" that linger in the air, mostly unanswered. But it's not an uncomfortable silence, rather a thoughtful one. Chastity Belt have made peace with their erotemes, and that same peace extends to the album as a whole, more grounded and cohesive than what came before.

Occasionally, there are times when you wish Chastity Belt would shed their melancholic coil and get a little louder; interrupt their carefully considered listlessness with an impassioned outburst. But they prefer to simmer in their milieu, aware of the effect that quiet contemplation has in moving their message forward. They conjure the same mournful stillness of Elliott Smith ("Clumsy") and tender whimsy of the Cure ("I-90"), but Chastity Belt's particular constancy is their greatest asset. Their trademark intertwining guitars, sweeping melodic rhythms, and poetic lyricism ensure success.    

In a digital-first world where irony and detachment rule supreme, Live Laugh Love is here to proudly reclaim cringe and vulnerability. Chastity Belt lean into the softness of being in the face of the unknown, taking pleasure in the company of friends IRL. "Don't get upset about it / It's gonna pass," Shapiro sings on "Blue," a gentle command that feels almost baptismal. A symbolic rebirth into the humdrum of living, Chastity Belt's latest asks that we move through the world with just a bit more compassion and humour — a little life, a little love, a little laughter. 

(Suicide Squeeze)

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