Matador Records recently gained one of the shinier gems of the contemporary lo-fi scene: Car Seat Headrest, the project of Will Toledo, a young and introspective singer songwriter.
Car Seat’s debut studio album, “Teens of Style,” has a professionally recorded feel, but Toledo didn’t stray far from his past.
“Teens of Style” maintains classic lo-fi tropes, fuzzy vocals and guitar, crashing percussion and very deluded lyrics. And yet, these characteristics do not make the album pandering to the scene.
Within this album, Toledo improved the production quality. The improvements in instrumentation and recording quality go a long way.
While more instruments are featured, namely the horns on “Times to Die” and the keyboard leads, “Teens of Style” is reminiscent of Coma Cinema’s “Posthumous Release” with said instrumentation.
On the third track, “Something Soon,” Toledo portrays a confessional sense. Feeling trapped by financial situation, location and neuroses, he expresses a need for escape. Mid song, all instruments drop out and leave the listener with the gripping vocal melody, repeating “I need something soon.”
Track five, “Times to Die,” opens with the line “All of my friends are getting married, all of my friends are right with god.” This line presents the struggle of early adulthood, a theme which resonates throughout Car Seat’s audience.
“Times to Die” turns the tables from being introspective to tracking progress by that of one’s peers. As heavy as the incoming adult world can be, the track is surprisingly upbeat with a poppy sound.
This album moves around, but at times it can sound very slow like on the track “No Passion,” which has a familiar tempo if you’re acquainted with Car Seat Headrest’s back catalog.
The album, can also be fast paced, fun and very innocent sounding. The implementation of the keyboard lead on “Maud Gone” is optimistically catchy, contrasting Toledo’s wails, oddly found in the background.
The optimistic tone sustains through the end of the album, which ends up sounding more and more like a mid sixties Beach Boys Album. It’s content with the world, while the lyrical content may not be.
“Teens of Style,” as with many other Car Seat releases, seems to be a way for Toledo to digest the world around him and regurgitate it with his own understanding.
If he continues to do so with a nostalgic lo-fi feel, and doesn’t let his instrumentation or lyrical content stagnate, Car Seat Headrest is on the trajectory for something big. In fact, they already have their second studio album, “Teens of Denial,” set for release sometime in 2016.
By, Cole Massie, Program Director