Chastity Belt’s discography is defined, in no small part, by its melancholy. The band’s first two records often cloaked their aching in humor, but the third album, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, laid bare the sadness and loneliness at the heart of Chastity Belt’s songwriting.

In many ways, lead singer Julia Shapiro’s debut solo album Perfect Version continues that growth, leaning into unfiltered honesty more than ever. The irony-laden lyrics and jangly sound have been replaced with introspective reflections about moving through your 20s, accompanied by down-trodden, low-key instrumentation.

The album’s press material tells us that Shapiro wrote and recorded Perfect Version in the midst of a mental health crisis, underscored by a break-up. Chastity Belt had to cut a tour short and she retreated to make this record.

But that background does little to capture what makes Perfect Version such a resonant listen. Rather, it’s Shapiro’s ability to tap into the malaise that seems to be effecting almost all young people.

We are living in times of unparalleled sadness and hopelessness. Despite technology connecting more people than ever, people have never felt more alone. (Forgive me for sounding like a “this is deep” 14-year-old.)

Shapiro never tries to solve this puzzle or make high-minded proclamations about how to make it better. Instead, she reveals she is just one of us. She feels alone; she feels like she’s got nowhere to go; she worries about social media and death in the same breath; she is young but already wishes she was younger; and, as she sings on ‘A Couple Highs’, she tries.

Trying to be better is actually something of a motif on the album. From album opener ‘Natural’, which is maybe the most Chastity Belt-like song on the whole record, to the sparse title track, Shapiro keeps describing her search for the cure to her depression. Having been there myself, you often have to tell yourself things are going to get better before they do.

Musically, Perfect Version isn’t flashy, but it sure is pretty. Chastity Belt records have a way of popping out at the listener with their shimmering melodies and catchy hooks, while this album is significantly more understated. But Shapiro’s hushed voice, delivered among reverberating guitars and atmospheric drones, invites the listener back for repeat listens. Think of Perfect Version as an invitation to mediation. The sadness on this record is undeniable, but, like many of the best “sad albums,” it creates a palpable peace and tranquility that offers listeners their own opportunity for reflection and healing. Vulnerability is the sort of thing you can’t fake in music and I think people will really connect with Shapiro’s openness.

Perfect Version is not a record for any and all occasions. But I could hardly think of a more fitting soundtrack for young adult life in 2019. Things are bleak and the future looks grim. But even so, we keep telling ourselves things are gonna be alright, and we are right there alongside Shapiro, searching for that light at the end of the tunnel.