words // KEEGAN HUGHES
Will Toledo knows how to write the hell out of a song.
Seven years after the original release of Car Seat Headrest’s Twin Fantasy, the tunes hold up. They hold up well.
His voice has taken center stage where it used to hide behind the curtains under layers of fuzz. Channeling more teenaged angst than all the crowds at every emo night you’ve ever been to, Toledo will make you feel what he sings. You will remember your first heartbreak with a level of detail you didn’t believe possible. He’ll make you believe that every bad thing that ever happened to you was meant to happen, and that it was a good thing that led to necessary growth.
Singing along to some of the choruses on Twin Fantasy isn’t enough. You’ll want to shout along. Scream along. You’ll understand.
Even if he let his voice dissolve between the power-pop guitar and drums, the lyrics would stand out. Toledo’s account of life, creating art, and relationships through the eyes of a nervous young person is honest and straightforward. If you’ve ever doubted yourself, or wished you could take a second swing at being nice and sincere with someone, this is an album for you. Self-deprecation has been done to death, but here it feels beautiful and relatable and sad and hopeful.
The production, although not high-end, has breathed fresh life into Car Seat Headrest’s sound. At times, one can hear elements of The Killers in their prime, like when revving synths tangle with lead guitar on “Nervous Young Inhumans.” Sometimes The Strokes are channeled, with the Julian Casablancas-like delivery on “Cute Thing,” where Toledo asks god to give him Frank Ocean’s voice and James Brown’s stage presence.
Vocal harmonies and guitar riffs make for some memorable, catchy hooks throughout. Refrains will continue refraining until they dig into your brain, leaving you singing “stop smoking, we l-o-o-o-v-e you,” and “the oooocean washed over your grave,” until your roommates and loved ones ask what the hell you are crooning.
Sometimes the ideas go on too long. Sometimes the focus can be lost, and songs can lose their momentum and drive. A couple of the longer outros have extended bits where a voice speaking about art or experience can drag.
However, listening to the album all the way though can provide a beautiful, self-referential experience. Hooks from earlier songs will appear later on, bringing a lovely sense of cohesion. There isn’t a central storyline to follow, but most of the songs have common themes of uncertainty, nervousness, and interpersonal troubles.
If you’re young, young at heart, or even just youth-inclined, give Twin Fantasy a listen.
If you’ve recently felt angsty, self-deprecating, or nervous, give Twin Fantasy a listen.
If you like pop-punk, 2000’s indie rock, or guitar pop in general, give Twin Fantasy a listen.
FAV TRACKS: Beach Life-in-Death, Nervous Young Inhumans, Bodys, Cute Thing.
LEAST FAV TRACKS: Famous Prophets (Stars).