Chastity Belt vocalist, Julia Shapiro, has moved to Los Angeles from Seattle and has thus started working solo. This has not impacted on her sound in a massive way, with the release of new album Zorked on Suicide Squeeze Records.

Zorked (adj.) – what happens when you end up in any situation where you feel not sober. You can feel so tired you’re zorked. In fact, any state, so long as you’re a little out of it, qualifies. So I think this gives us some clues as to what we might expect from Julia’s LP. I mean we wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say that it’s a more sedate lo-fi indie form of shoegaze that reminds me of Thurston Moore’s works of circa 2015.

Julia Shapiro, of Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who Is She? fame, with her recent move West has released her second album, Zorked. With nowhere to go during lockdown, Julia cultivated a Los Angeles on this LP that is seemingly a wasteland melting in slow-motion, a place to commune with ghosts and warped legacies.

Living within earshot of a man who spent his entire 2020 singing karaoke for over 10 hours a day, Julia had transformed their house into a viable home studio without guilt, making it easy to fully realize the sound in her head, making lockdown more manageable.

This is evident in the first few seconds of album opener Death (XIII), where Julia layers walls of guitars, bass chords, and programmed drums that propel her voice skyward as she sings of “holding on to something concrete” in its chorus. Come With Me, takes inspiration from a mushroom trip gone bad, though being less damning in sound than the opener. On Wrong Time, shimmering guitars immediately lift our moods, though the lyrics often sees Julia trapped within herself. As well as Moore, there is a hint of Elliot Smith and Aussie, Courtney Barnett, about this album, which comes out most obviously on Someone.

Title track, Zorked, is laden with glistening guitars, uplifting behind Julia’s doom-led lyrics. By album closer Hall of Mirrors Julia seems defeatist losing the shimmer with mere fingerpicked guitar, and lyrics that suggest a loss of way. An LP that has little sunlight, few would guess of her geographical relocation. However, it’s Julia sounding marvellously shoegazey whilst playing somewhat with lyrics and aesthetic sounds. Her second LP is masterful.

Zorked is out now on Suicide Squeeze.