I'm a sucker for retro-sounding disenchantment that echoes pre-indiehype times. Though I must confess, I'd never paid much attention to Chastity Belt before. But there was something about the singles they dropped prior to the release of their third album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone that spoke directly to me, that made me remember things I never realised I had forgotten: it's like finding something you didn't think you had lost - you never look for it in the first place.

Agreed, I can duly identify why tunes like 'Different Before' or '5am' sounded as familiar as mom's comfort food. Always a fan of DIY melodic proto-grunge, it's ultimately the sincere and confessional tone of their sound that wins me over - and there's plenty of that in Chastity Belt's new LP. After all the title itself, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, is derived from bandleader Julia Shapiro's previous considerations of embarking on a solo career prior to forming Chastity Belt. It establishes an honest dichotomy of alone/together that can be visibly sensed -- almost felt! -- in the new album. But I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is much more than a mere construction on the importance (or not) of interpersonal relationships; it emerges as a reflection on choices, on one's place in the world, and yes, even on the female condition. The maturity with which each tune is delivered is as simple and yet as complex as love itself -- "just say that we love each other, because we do," Annie Truscott told David Bevan when he was writing the album's liner notes - without losing a freshness and innocence that almost echoes our pre-teens.

And then there's that omnipresent Seattle sound discreetly hovering throughout the album - in spite of it having been recorded at Portland's Jackpot!, where they worked with producer Matthew Simms - lending a sense of comfort and home like a flannel shirt tied around your waist. I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is not an album that makes you smile, at least not without some reservations. It's delicately and deliciously bitter - and yet it's all you need without even knowing it. The solo at the end of 'It's Obvious', for example, has the underlying quality of those tiny details that get stuck inside your head for days, working in the background while you exist in automatic mode.

I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone breathes a paradox of simplicity and complexity - but I guess that's what happens when you manage to pour yourself out like Chastity Belt did. Though it can eventually make for numerous and intricate readings both technically and conceptually, it's the album's undeniable quality that emerges as solid and everlasting, embodying a timelessness very rarely found.

As Chastity Belt would probably want me to, I'll cut the bullshit: this is one hell of an album. Go listen.