Reviews

Julia Shapiro
Perfect Version

(Hardly Art)

7/10

Julia Shapiro has long been a cornerstone of America’s West Coast music scene. Her bands Chastity Belt, Childbirth and Who Is She?, formed alongside Seattle area musicians from bands such as Pony Time and Tacocat, have their roots in stinging satire and a cut-throat, mordant humour that have come to be Shapiro’s signature. In light of this, her latest musical output and first solo endeavour is all the more striking in its forthrightness.

Stripped back in both essence and musicality, Perfect Version is an album forged from the depths of despair and crisis. In autumn 2018, while in the midst of Chastity Belt’s international tour of their third album, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, Shapiro decided she couldn’t continue and cancelled the tour, returning home to her Seattle apartment. The breakdown of a serious relationship and various health issue had resulted in debilitating depression and utter disillusionment with creating music and playing live shows. She explains, “I was really depressed. I felt like I couldn’t sing or be a person.”

In the space of ten songs, Shapiro manages to capture a profound and self-aware examination of her place in a world of her own making, unlike anything she has created before. A combination of layered vocals and rippling shoegaze guitars serve to heighten the emotional depth of Perfect Version, though its real success is in making the listener, too, question what it might be like to truly ‘love yourself’. Intimate though never schmaltzy or saccharine, Perfect Version is, above all, a realist’s guide to self-reflection.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.