Chastity Belt: Live Laugh Love

It’s only been seven years since Chastity Belt released their excellent album, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. Between then and now, the Washington band delivered a self-titled record to largely favorable reviews and then signed to a new label, Suicide Squeeze. To listen to either of their two previous full-lengths back-to-back against their latest release, Live Laugh Love, you’d think the band had run out of both energy and ideas. It’s unfortunate, but there are very few bright spots on this, the group’s fifth proper studio LP.

Live Laugh Love starts strong with the midtempo “Hollow”. Singer/guitarist Julia Shapiro’s voice sounds beautiful and sincere, and the crisp production and enjoyable guitar interplay between her and Lydia Lund help flesh the entire moment out nicely. Sadly, “Hollow” is as good as this album gets. “I think it’s my ego that’s been bringing me down, I spend so much time with my head up in the clouds,” are just some of the lame, cliché lyrics included in the first verse of the limp “Funny”. But it gets worse. During the second verse of “Clumsy”, a song about a relationship gone sour, Shapiro actually sings the words, “I don’t wanna be a bitch, but I think you need to grow up.” Come on.

With its post-punk groove and emotive, angular guitar work, “Chemtrails” is mostly decent and offers some hope that the band will turn things around during Live Laugh Love’s second half. Regretfully, the song that follows, “Blue”, is maybe the worst Shapiro’s voice has ever sounded as she struggles to stay in tune and offers up more awful lyrics like, “In a moment, it all could end, I’ve gotta get off the internet.” How embarrassing. There is some decent guitarwork between Lund and Shapiro during “I-90 Bridge”, but two songs later, “Like That”, the song that mercifully concludes this mess of a record, brings everything to a sludgy, uninspired end.

Perhaps what’s most disappointing about Live Laugh Love is that this is Chastity Belt’s debut for Suicide Squeeze. This is supposed to be the grand inauguration that shows the world they’re still capable of amazing things. We’re a long way from the greatness of I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. One can only hope there’s more good than bad on whatever Chastity Belt do next.

Rating: 4.0/10

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