Car Seat Headrest – ‘Teens Of Denial’ Review

Will Toledo has been making melancholy slacker rock in his bedroom since 2010. He’s finally hit on the magic formula

As Car Seat Headrest, 23-year-old Will Toledo has released an impressive 12 albums since 2010. Eleven of these were fashioned in the depths of his college bedroom in Virginia and released on Bandcamp. Then last year, Matador Records gave the guy a break and put out the 12th, ‘Teens Of Style’ – a compilation of his best songs, re-recorded. Crucially it gave Toledo his first experience of putting tracks together with a full band, and this feeds into every aspect of his monstrously impressive latest ‘Teens Of Denial’.

Toledo’s talent for writing melancholic slacker rock stands out immediately on boozy teen anthem ‘Destroyed By Hippie Powers’. There are crashing [a]Pixies[/a] riffs complete with Kim Deal bass, and subtle lyrical inflection in a song that’s basically about a teenager finding his place in the world. “I’m freaking out in a house that isn’t mine” drawls Toledo over scratchy guitar, and in the line “should not have had that last beer” he displays a knack for sharing a near universal thought.

Elsewhere, ‘Cosmic Hero’ blossoms into life with a brassy, Godfather-style fanfare, blending jagged minor scales with rough ’n’ ready power chords in a rollicking epic that pushes and pulls you all over the place. Then there’s single ‘Fill In The Blank’, which is just a short, sharp, simple and brilliant rock tune.

There’s the odd blast of standard indie fare such as ‘Vincent’ and ‘1937 State Park’, but in the main ‘Teens Of Denial’ is the work of a precocious talent. Most tracks last over five minutes and the longest comes in at 12. It gives the impression that Toledo is doing what he wants and making the music he wants to hear. You can’t help but love him for it.