Brandon Williams’ second full-length record as Chastity, Home Made Satan, is a new direction for the Whitby, Ontario-native. It’s an emotional and political concept album, the second installment of his I Love trilogy, from the perspective of a young man who’s spent too much time alone, inside, isolated from the world. It’s about fear, and radicalization; an intense meditation on youth and extremism in an increasingly irrational and violent Western World. Williams, who produces all his own music, set out to create something with a strong cinematic nature, a record that sounds somewhere between My Chemical Romance and The Smiths (even as he cites Morrissey’s alignment with the UK’s far-right as the complete opposite of his mission). Recorded in a small studio in London, Ontario, with his full band in the few weeks between a European tour with Fucked Up and a seven-week North American tour, Williams crafted Home Made Satan like he was producing a film - his bandmates were the cast members, his engineer the cinematographer, and Williams the writer and composer. "It’s so visual to me," he says. "I’m scoring this picture I have, and trying to get it as close to people’s ears as it is in my mind." The new songs are gothier and poppier than ever, recalling ‘80s goth staples like The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Home Made Satan’s got "a bit more" than 2018’s genre-bending shoegaze-meets-post-hardcore Death Lust, and it’s got pop-punk hooks for days. Wiliams has toned down the reverb, too, on the new record, with an emphasis on vocals and lyrics. Home Made Satan, with its lines about commies and American masochism and the Christian right, is meant to sing along to. Through songs like "Flames" - a gauzy, hook-heavy, tongue-in-cheek tune that draws a line between sexual fetishism and the fetish of the "American dream," and parallels bleak emotion with bleak economy - and "Last Year’s Lust," a melancholy track about the "fucked ideas" we get when we’re alone for too long ("Today, I stay home / And I make sure I’m not going to hell"), Williams tells the story of a young man who steps outside of his bubble and sees the world for the first time. Home Made Satan is acutely political, but it’s romantic, too. "The Klan still meets in London, you should come," goes "Spirit Meet Up," a fraught-sounding standout about a Bonnie and Clyde-style affair. "I’ll bring my weapons / Unmask ‘em, skin ‘em, cut ‘em / Watch them run, organs bleeding falling, dying." The young man is out there, "fucking shit up," as Williams puts it, battling hate and discovering new ways of thinking ("You say commie like it’s a bad thing," he sings.) The violence, Williams explains, is done with the belief that it will net "good" for the world. And "Sun Poisoning" is about the realities of a new relationship, the scariness of seeing yourself reflected in a new partner, the anxious feelings of doubt that come with being vulnerable, about feeling happy and sad at the same time. "Do you want to see / How easily my teeth bleed?" Williams sings, "Do you really want to see / If you can make me happy?...In a world bad and bleak / We could keep each other healthy." With Home Made Satan, Williams chooses a side. And that side is with the far-left. On "The Girls I Know Don’t Think So," which he refined with the help of his bassist Julia TK, he sticks up for the concerns outside of his own experience. Here, the young man finds his heart. He ridicules men who harass and catcall women, men who say “no need for hostility,” when there definitely is a reason to be hostile. "Dead Relatives" is a mournful song in which the young man bemoans traditional American values and stews at home, hoping for reform - "There’s a special place in hell for the Christian right," Williams sings, "Bury your parents tonight." And on the punchy, rousing "I Still Feel The Same," the young man, though still pessimistic, feels a fire to help make the world a better place. "If you want / Everyting you’ve dreamt of / Make up a god / Make up some heaven."
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- New Year Sale 2020