It has been nearly 10 years since Julia Shapiro met the other members of Chastity Belt during her freshman year at Whitman College. "That's fucking weird," she says with a hearty laugh.

It is a light-hearted moment, but the passage of time and the existential problems of young adulthood are core to Chastity Belt's new album, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone.

Still, don't say that Chastity Belt is growing up. When I ask Shapiro, the primary vocalist and guitarist for the Seattle-based band, about the maturation narrative around the recent album, she cannot help but laugh. "That's the story!" she jokes.

Narratives be damned, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is a tremendous leap forward for a band that has done almost nothing but make leaps forward. The band's prior two LPs -- 2013's No Regerts and 2015's Time To Go Home -- are among the most thrilling albums in recent memory. They showcased a band with a sharp wit, tight arrangements and an instantly recognizable sound. Those records also earned Chastity Belt a substantial following around the country, with fans of all ages, genders, etc. turning out to support the band.

Having built upon that success, Chastity Belt has turned in their most cohesive and introspective record to date with I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone. Still oozing with wit and self-awareness, the record does spend more time within the head's of the band, tackling the ever-growing and changing list of problems experienced by people in their mid-20s. It is a little more bleak than the band's previous albums, but is still just as beautiful and wonderfully crafted.

But even on previous records, people were attempting to tack narratives onto the group's music. "The last record, people really wanted to talk about how feminist my lyrics were, which is cool but I just got really sick of talking about it," says Shapiro with another laugh.

With I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, much has been made about how Chastity Belt is finally "growing up." Songs like 'Different Now' and 'Caught In a Lie' showcase an evolving style of writing, and one than many critics have lauded for its mature style, which they say relies more heavily upon nuance and less on jokes. For Shapiro, however, it has been a much more natural progression that could be seen throughout any of the band's albums.

"It was the direction our songwriting was going," she says. "But even songs from our first record, the half of them that were written in Seattle are pretty 'grown up' or serious. There's a distinct difference between the songs we wrote in college and the songs we wrote once we moved to Seattle. So it doesn't feel like its happened so suddenly...It just seems like an easy story to latch onto for people."

What is of interest to Shapiro and her bandmates -- guitarist Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott and drummer Gretchen Grimm -- is the reaction of fans they've encountered on their recent U.S. tour.

"We've gotten a really great response," she says. "People have been coming up to me and telling me that they've been going through hard times and that this record helped them through it. It's really cool."

Shapiro also notes the eclectic collection of people who have come up to praise the band's music after shows. "It is pretty cool how many different kinds of people can connect to our music," she says. "We get a lot of older men and teenage girls. I love when we get some teenagers into our music. This last tour was all-ages so all the teens came out!"

What fans likely don't know much about is the changes behind-the-scenes that led to Chastity Belt's most recent triumph. Having been signed to the consistently fantastic label Hardly Art after recording Time To Go Home, the recording process of I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone was the first time they'd ever really recorded under the gun.

Still, the band found themselves with more time, more resources and more help than ever before. "For Time To Go Home, we didn't have much of a budget," explains Shapiro. "We just paid for the recording ourselves, and did that in like five days. It was kind of stressful and wasn't the smoothest process. So this time around we had a little more time to work with, we recorded for like eight days."

But Shapiro identifies the eight day recording window as crucial to the quality of this new LP.

"It definitely affected the recording. This record sounds a lot fuller," she says. "We did a lot more guitar overdubs and had time to thicken it up a little bit. We were also able to try stuff that we wouldn't have tried if we didn't have more time."

Still, the eight days managed to feel almost as crunching as their previous five-day recording period. "We still ended up being rushed at the end, because you use as much time as you have," she laughs. "So by the end, we were like 'Oh shit! Gotta cram these vocals!' But I would like even more time, I wish that it wasn't an issue in recording. Because if we had all the time in the world, it wouldn't feel so stressful."

The stress was only amplified for the band during the mixing period, as producer Matthew Simms (a recent addition to legendary post-punk band Wire) had to return to the United Kingdom after recording, leaving the group to communicate about mixes exclusively over email. "It was kind of a tedious process," Shapiro says with a sigh. "Things that you could have heard and pointed out right away in the studio, you had to take the time to send an audio file and things like that."

In spite of this, Chastity Belt still left the recording process feeling positive. "We are just learning every time," says Shapiro.

The band had already taken some of the songs out on the road as long as a year ago, but Shapiro says that "it's nice to play them to audiences who know them now."

Chastity Belt's recent tour took them across the Midwest and East Coast, allowing them to play in a number of cities they'd never played before. At the end of July, they'll embark upon a West Coast tour. "We kinda planned it around what cities do we want to go to the beach in," Shapiro chuckles.

In September, the band's tour plans will take them to the United Kingdom and onto Europe. Shapiro is especially looking forward to this jaunt. "I love it over there," she says. "When we first went over, it seemed like people were so stoked."

She was able to pinpoint her love of playing in the UK, attributing to one particular quirk. "The one thing I've noticed that's different in the UK is that they are really into singing along to the guitar solos!" she exclaims. Especially for a song like 'Joke,' there is that long guitar solo outro and everyone in the crowd was signing along. It was awesome."

With critical acclaim and fan appreciation to be found in spades for Chastity Belt, it is hard to imagine what more could go right for this tight-knit Seattle group.

"I'd like to just continue on this trajectory," says Shapiro. "We've already written a few new songs and I feel like there are going to be some more songs with Gretchen and Lydia singing. We want to get a little weirder, maybe we will add some strings? I don't know."

She says it like a joke, but the strings idea is clearly more than just a shot-in-the-dark. "Annie grew up playing violin and she's pretty good, so we are thinking it could sound pretty good to add that to a song or two," she says with enthusiasm.

But all that's a little down the line. For now, Chastity Belt gets to revel in the success of I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, taking it on the road and playing it to the masses.

In the meantime, Shapiro and her bandmates really only have one desire: "We want to get freaky!"

I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is out now through Hardly Art. Chastity Belt is set to tour the UK and Europe this fall. Check out the dates here.