Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style – Album Review

car seat headrest teens of style review

Teens of Style  Was Released on October 30th Via Matador Records.

Car Seat Headrest is the brainchild of the Seattle-based artist Will ToledoHis new album Teens of Style, out October 30th, is sure to turn heads and grab the attention of previously uninterested listeners. Musically it’s much more sophisticated than his prior releases, yet it’s still full of the endearing teenage-angst driven lyrics that his fans have come to love. Toledo assembled a full band for this recording, which in my opinion pushes his sound up to the next level. The new release, Teens of Style, is a sort of coming of age album for Toledo. It features new versions of old songs from his extensive self-recorded discography, breathing new life into them with a larger sound and a more psychedelic edge.

The album is well orchestrated. It’s catchy and upbeat, full of noisy interludes and reverb-heavy vocals. It’s guaranteed to pull you out of your body and throw you into a transcendental bliss if you will let it. Yet despite the pleasing pop riffs, the lyrics cry of confusion and urgency. “Heavy boots on my throat; I need something soon.” Toledo is known for documenting his adolescent struggles with the same honesty that would line the pages of a private journal. The song I just referred to, “Something Soon,” ends with an anthemic and danceable build-up that brings a sense of playfulness into Toledo’s dark reality. This contradiction is felt throughout the album.

It’s precisely this sort of hyper-emotional heart-felt lyricism that has secured a loyal following for Toledo. All of his material until now has been self-released and promoted by Toledo himself. This might not sound too unusual until I mention that his Bandcamp houses eleven full albums. With over 25,000 downloads, the time has come for Car Seat Headrest to put a professional polish on this extensive library of material.

As a teenager living with his parents in Leesburg, Virginia, Toledo had no place to practice and record without interruption or potential embarrassment. So in an act of clever resourcefulness, Toledo set up an impromptu recording space in his family’s car. He spent countless days staring at the back of the car seat headrest, pouring out his teenage heart to the internet. I’m sure that Toledo’s 17-year old self would never have imagined that one day media outlets would refer to his work as “crazy impressive.” But that’s exactly how Teens of Style was referred to by New York City’s Brooklyn Vegan.

After so much time and work, fueled by Toledo’s fierce independent passion, Car Seat Headrest is finally getting the widespread recognition that is long overdue. The song “Something Soon” is accompanied by Toledo’s first official video, directed by Jason Reid. Toledo will also hit the road this month for Car Seat Headrest’s first official national headlining tour.

Toledo puts more emphasis on how the vocals sound in these new recordings, adding layers and exaggerated effects. The reworked songs have more depth, sharper changes, and are a bit heavier. It’s a step in a really positive direction. Car Seat Headrest plans to release a follow up album next year called  “Teens of Denial,” which will be Toldeo’s first studio recording. This project is going places. “Teens of Style” has the grittiness of garage rock, the emotional sentiment of pop, and the lyrical sophistication of someone who has been writing songs as long as Will Toledo. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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