New Music | Friday Roll Out: Chastity Belt, Frail Body

If there is any group that ever made you think “What in the fucking world…???” it would probably be Rockford, Illinois’ own Frail Body. The band has just released its debut full-length release with Artificial Bouquet (Deathwish Inc.), which sounds like a disjointed affair. It isn’t disjointed in the sense that the combination of songs compiled here doesn’t make sense, instead, it’s the melodic drive of songs that are entwined with the caterwaul of vocals that are unnerving. The band seems to blend its post-hardcore fervor with blackened metal synergy coasting across deathly cataclysmic percussion. The band of trio Lowel Shaffer (guitar, voice, piano), Nic Kuczynski (bass), and Nicholas Clemenson (drums) is able to sound like a group much bigger than itself of orchestral death. It’s by no means a slight on Frail Body but instead, the largest of compliments. The fact that three men are able to do everything that they can on this release is utterly amazing.


Is there any reason why anyone shouldn’t view a group, five albums deep now as a band, as essential listening when its members blend individual talents to create something so ripe and fresh? When anyone thinks of the Seattle-based Chastity Belt, they might be surprised to find the band is more than just purveyors of creating sweetly hypnotic songs that revolve around dual guitar interplay and its rhythm section. It’s far more than that but we may as well start at the beginning though.

The band’s new album Live Laugh Love (Suicide Squeeze) could be kitschy in title alone, or the band members may believe this is what we all need right about now but in any case, the pop band with a noisy flair seems to have delivered subtlety through its music. It kicks things off innocently enough with “Hollow,” with sweet lingering notes and strummed guitars over honey-dewed vocals. The song’s words echo around what might seem to be complacency but instead are probably dealing with adulthood and accepting the things we’re unable to change. In any case, the song shimmers brilliantly, effectively captivating through every listen. But it’s the slow build-up of “Clumsy,” with its layered vocal harmonies that threaten to find off-key notes but never do, all the while guitars and percussion step around words through slight dynamic shifts.

There’s a penchant for noisiness through Chastity Belt’s pop constructs though, and we can hear it on the sweet “Kool-Aid” as guitars take an ominous Kevin Shields approach in the not-so-distant backdrop. Cooing vocals entice but the guitars sometimes detract as you’re drawn into the song from every possible angle. It’s delightful but it seems the band holds back and we all know it has the capability of making this a beast of a track. That’s not to say the song itself doesn’t slap, because it does. It’s the subtlety of the band I mentioned earlier. We seem to get the best of what Chastity Belt has to offer as its repetitive “Blue,” filled with harmonies, sultrily strummed guitars, and steady rhythm all seem to slowly build up to something that’s sonically challenging as guitars hit overdrive and are on the brink of unrecognizable feedback, but it never happens. The band controls its instruments with prowess.

If there’s anything left to be said about Chastity Belt it’s that it’s obviously gotten better with time. The band has slowly evolved and progressed through every subsequent release, and yeah, we should all Live, Laugh, Love through the band’s new album.