In the restrooms of dive bars around Seattle, you’ll find sloppily written graffiti on the walls bearing the words “cool slut.” Sometimes the phrase is by itself. Other times there’s an anecdote next to it (“sleeps with your boyfriend, but then feels super bad about it”). Whether Chastity Belt started this tag or adopted it as their own is almost irrelevant. As the torchbearers for Seattle’s women-led punk revival, it’s theirs to claim and redefine as they see fit on their sophomore album, Time to Go Home.
“Cool Slut” the song embraces the same deadpan humor as the graffiti. Frontwoman Julia Shapiro sings in a monotone warble, talking about going out for a night on the town and encouraging her fellow ladies to be slutty if they want to be. She indulges in some wonderfully blunt lines like, “We’re just a couple of sluts/ So what?/ We like to fuck.” There’s a knee-jerk impulse to laugh at her anecdotes, but it’s usually followed by a head nod. She’s funny, and she’s right.
If you listened to Chastity Belt without paying attention to the words, it’d be easy to categorize them as a super-serious indie rock group with a penchant for post-punk melodies. The album was even recorded in a deconsecrated church, which is especially apparent in the warm and lovely reverb on Shapiro’s weighty vocals and Lydia Lund’s guitar. That alone would make the band worth hearing, but their sarcastic tenacity redoubles their strength in today’s music climate.
Time to Go Home is an album full of rallying cries. Opener “Drone” moves along in a haze, building up to Shapiro’s infectious hook: “He was just another man trying to teach me something.” Later, she laments getting drunk out of boredom and debates, “Is it cool not to care?” It’s an idea she continues to struggle with on the title track. Not even substances can help you make sense of all the messes you confront each day.
The band doesn’t always have the answers, but they’re great at laying out the issues they face. Sometimes humor is the best way to cope. Sometimes the best way to make a change is just to call it out the way you see it.
Essential Tracks: “Drone”, “Cool Slut”, and “IDC”