Favorite Song Right Now: Chastity Belt "Joke"

Graham LeBron
03 13, 2015

Right out of the gate, this sounds like it could be a Joy Division cover. Specifically, a slowed down version of Disorder or Transmission, but very quickly it becomes so much more.

The stark landscape is set by a driving bass and stuttered drum pattern, dotted with sparse guitars, one clean, one dirty. All coming in in the perfect 80’s order. It’s beautiful, and dark and somehow very modern. Maybe it’s the production, but I feel like this is could be Warpaint’s little sister that was more into the Vaselines and Bikini Kill than E.S.G. and The Slits. A little angrier than sad. Still worn down, with something to prove, but still from the same family.

They actually made sort of similar videos too. The video for the other track from their new album, Time To Go Home, is essentially just the four of them hanging out while the song plays -- pretty much what Warpaint does in their video for Disco/Very - Keep it Healthy.


Once the vocals come in, there’s still some post punk in there, but it’s more laid back. The chorus fits the arrangement perfectly. "I feel far away for a while, I'm gonna light you on fire." I wish you would.

I hear a bit of C86 influence as the song builds, in a similar way Alvvays or The Pains of Being Pure At Heart seem to have been inspired by a genre captured by a semi-obscure tape compilation released by NME in 1986.

I stop thinking of genres at all as the guitars begin to play with each other, evolving and stretching out over this 5:31 long journey through melancholy. It gets epic as the last lyrics finish around the halfway mark. Plenty of space is left. In my old band, we used to say arrangements like this were made up of what we like to call bonehead parts. And that is a great thing. A small number of very basic parts arranged well can be more powerful than all the soft synths and layered, effected guitar tracks in the world. More really can be less. This is a fine example. Think of your favorite songs and count the number of parts going on. Are they really all that complex? Probably not. Sometimes having “chops” means not showing them. 

This is most evident when, around the 4 minute mark, the guitars really start to take off. Then the clean guitar you thought was just holding it down, playing subtle variations of the same riff for the whole song, finally jumps out and takes a tasteful solo, lifting the whole thing to epic new heights and a grandiose ending. I’ve now listened to this song 10 times in a row. Thanks Hardly Art, you guys are doing no wrong these days. Chastity Belt’s 2nd LP, Time To Go Home, comes out on March 23. You can pre order here.

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