The initial appeal of Will Toledo’s creation Car Seat Headrest is both the abruptness and rawness in the lyrics and it’s percussion-heavy indie sound. Car Seat Headrest was initially just Toledo, but has grown into a full-fledged band. It’s debut album under Matador Records, Teens of Style, is a subtly tweaked compilation of new and old work.
Teens of Style is the musical embodiment of an existential crisis that most of us experience in our late teens/early twenties. Songs like “Something Soon” are about desiring something but not being able to pinpoint that desire; it’s teen angst learning how to grow up. On “No Passion,” Toledo drones, “Like a child I am speaking to no one, spitting out words like dirt, in the morning I’m a corpse, drafting my emails to the corporation,” like all of us who want to explore our creativity and passion but find ourselves a slave to ‘the man,’ at the fault of needing work. What better way to sing about not having passion than with an exceptional amount of it.
The songs on Teens of Style aren’t the cookie-cutter four to five minutes we’ve come to expect. They range from one to six-and-a-half minutes, and it makes them feel complete in their own way. No song is created equal; it feels natural that some thoughts need more time to express while others don’t need as much.
This is a great first album, compiling earlier work nicely into an organized volume with narrative and clarity. However, to sustain itself, Car Seat Headrest’s next work should be more daring. If you listen to Teens of Style on repeat, the songs drone together. Refining the vocals and playing around with the sound so that each song doesn’t sound similar to the last would further establish them as a solid indie band.
“It’s been so long since I saw the light, maybe I haven’t been looking at the sky,” wherever you’re looking Will Toledo, it seems to be headed in the right direction. »
– Erin Treat
Car Seat Headrest plays live in Portland January 23 at Mississippi Studios