Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Style

by Nathan Fidler Rating:8 Release Date:2015-10-30

“Do not link the numbered albums because they’re not very good,” is Will Toledo’s message on his bandcamp page - the site where he made his name as Car Seat Headrest. It’s a stupidly boring band name but given it was what he spent most of his time looking at when recording in his car, you can understand the association. Teens of Style is his debut album, but it's more a greatest hits.

Since 2010, Toledo has been constantly writing music, streaming his conscious for anyone who will listen (not including the aforementioned numbered albums, which are actually poor in comparison). Now, with the success he’s slowly built, he’s cherry-picked tracks to build a strong debut. It’s varied in its themes but the title ties them together well, with ‘Something Soon’ epitomising his sound better than any other track.

“I want to break something important, I want to kick my dad in the shin” shows a stroppy, bored, but brilliant youngster, lashing out in the most un-punk like manner. Everything on this album is played out inside his own head, professing a love for author Raymond Carver and R.E.M singer Michael Stipe. It's all so relatable for the bored, underutilised but artistic youth of today. 

The album is awash with the kind of harmonies you’d expect from Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, but they’re played out over an indie-angst backdrop. Toledo’s vocals often sound whispered or yelled through a distant megaphone, enhancing his nasally sound. While all of this plays out well, the riffs appear to simply play a backup role.

Only on ‘psst, teenagers, take off your clo’ do you feel he is him letting loose with fuzzed guitars and a frantic pace. Aside from this, for the most part the pacing is slightly one-sided, but this is a young musician who you can tell is trying anything which comes to him. ‘Maud Gone’ sprinkles some thick keyboard work and more down-trodden but melodious lyrics, if only to highlight this formula.

At his more experimental end it’s tougher to stay on board, but sticking with this album will throw up pockets of brilliance. What might sound like a garbled opening is likely to turn into a well-crafted pop-rock blinder; he genuinely seems to love playing with his arrangements rather than dwelling on one aspect of a song too much. It’s safe to say that the joy in this album comes from not knowing what is around the corner - that’s if you haven’t heard the original versions of the songs before.

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