Car Seat Headrest

Teens of Denial

Matador

May 06, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Will Toledo, the young creator of Car Seat Headrest, used to prefer anonymity, releasing 11 self-recorded albums on Bandcamp without pretense or assignation of image. His identification with slacker youth trying to find something meaningful to grab onto has gradually made him one of their emissaries. So, with a confidence garnered from their endorsement, not to mention an ever-widening appeal, Toledo took his game up a few notches to announce himself. Teens of Denial is Headrest's first full-band studio album and the results are fantastic.

Managing an impressive balancing act of borrowing from '90s indie rock majesty without sounding derivative, Toledo issues forth convincingly, dropping tasteful odes to the figures of his inspiration. On one track he takes turns channeling Doug Martsch and Brandon Flowers, while on another he leads with his best Frank Black imitation before closing with a glee-inducing Benjamin Orr cover. Other welcome references are to Stephen Malkmus, Julian Casablancas, and Weezer, and each song grips you with the exuberance of something alive and fresh.

Supplanting the hazy radio qualities of his DIY endeavors, a bold palette of past-era pop melody splashes all over Teens of Denial, which is also mixed beautifully, utilizing just enough restraint on instrumental reverb for the parts to hug one another. It's evident that there was a savvy production hand on this one (Steve Fisk produced the album). Even with the edges sanded, all of the jangly spontaneity that colored last year's prequel, Teens of Style, rips through the surface. Toledo has also dropped the megaphone, introducing a surprisingly dulcet tenor.

Some albums transcend simply by giving you something to groove to, in whichever way the feeling strikes. They can be portals to an atmosphere of youthful ennui that we've all encountered somehow, somewhere. On this one, Toledo speaks for and to the disaffected ones shuffling along between adolescence and adulthood, kicking about the neighborhood to avoid home life and hiding out in their basements and garages when they can't. That tangibility is made even greater by the hooks and choruses of songs that hang around in your ears well after the needle slips. (www.carseatheadrest.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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