Car Seat Headrest, “Teens of Denial”

Car Seat HeadrestCar_Seat_Headrest-2016-Teens_of_Denial
Teens of Denial

While a common understanding of the ways of the Internet includes the fact that, through it, one has the ability to reach a global audience or spread information immediately, the opposite can also be true: put something out there and no one will care, or even notice. To paraphrase the tagline from the movie Alien: in (cyber) space, no one can hear you scream—or whine about your bad day/relationship/hair.

This reality plays directly into the career of Car Seat Headrest’s creative force Will Toledo, whose new album Teens of Denial is his twelfth, or thirteenth, but for all intents and purposes, it serves as his introduction to the general public (last year’s Teens of Style, his Matador debut, was a set of re-recorded older material). A bad political tweet can reach millions in seconds, but eleven albums worth of free music—all were first posted on Bandcamp, where they remain—can exist with scant attention paid. We didn’t say the process was democratic.

Teens of Denial showcases most of the weapons in Toledo’s arsenal: deft wordplay, a vocal style that might be the very definition of ennui, and tight guitar-driven indie rock arrangements that recall Weezer, Beck, and Jonathan Richman. A prime example of Toledo’s M. O. comes in the first line of the album’s opener, “Fill in the Blank,” in which the singer exclaims, “I’m so sick of (fill in the blank).” Track two, “Vincent,” has Toledo channeling his best Julian Casablancas over a looser, trippier Strokes riff and snarling magical lines such as, “I don’t need the complications, I’m just in it for the beatings.”

Up until recently, Toledo handled most of Car Seat’s musicianship himself, but with Denial he’s afforded himself the luxury of a full band, which allows the album to breathe; the addition of a few choice horn parts adds lovely melodic flourishes. Toledo has never made a secret of his indie pop-star ambitions. With Teens of Denial he’ll most likely see his audience expand exponentially, and despite claims such as “I find it harder to speak when someone else is listening,” from this new album we’re sure he’ll continue to bestow his off-kilter observances among his growing tribe.


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