By Yasmin Ettobi
Let’s take a trip through the past of Car Seat Headrest’s fascinating career. Before the 2016 release of their critically acclaimed record Teens of Denial, before they signed to Matador Records in 2015, indie rock group Car Seat Headrest was comprised just of frontman Will Toledo. A teenager at the time, Toledo constantly uploaded an impressively large stream of albums to Bandcamp. Writing, singing, and recording all of these songs completely by himself, Toledo’s music possessed a distinct, trembling lo-fi sound that slowly but surely become more popular on the site. Car Seat Headrest began to gain speed in 2011, with the release of a record called Twin Fantasy. Though it still possessed gritty production and muffled vocals, Twin Fantasy was a stellar album, and it had the makings to be even greater. Flash forward seven years, and Car Seat Headrest has unlocked the true potential of Twin Fantasy through a new, “re-recorded and re-imagined” version of it.
Twin Fantasy makes the most sense and sounds its best when listened to from front to back, in its full 70 minute glory. Its themes of love, lust, confusion and pain build from one song to the next, each giving a little glimpse into the thoughts of Car Seat Headrest. However, many tracks off of this record stand by themselves as incredible pieces of music. Twin Fantasy’s leading single “Nervous Young Inhumans” is perhaps the best example of this. Featuring a driving drum pattern, glittering guitars, and soaring, emotional vocals on its hook, this track has been reworked into a polished, irresistible piece of music.
“Bodys” immediately follows “Nervous Young Inhumans” on the tracklist, and again, displays Car Seat Headrest’s astonishingly superb ability to convey emotion through their music. This track displays the intricate contrast of feelings between desiring someone, romantically and/or sexually, and the anxiety that comes with not feeling like you’re enough for them. The upbeat tempo and shining guitar riffs practically beg to be danced to, while the lyrics show a bit of hesitation, creating a clever duality.
While songs such as “Nervous Young Inhumans,” “Bodys,” and “Cute Thing” have a clear, concise message, what would a Car Seat Headrest record be without a couple sprawling tracks that ring in at over 10 minutes long? Twin Fantasy features two songs like this, entitled “Beach Life-In-Depth” and “Famous Prophets (Stars).” It’s easy to get lost within the length of these tracks, but paying attention to the content of them pays off, as they reveal some of the most personal and heartfelt thoughts within the whole album. Along with intricate, symbolic lyrics written by Toledo, the musicianship found in these songs (and throughout the whole album for that matter) is something that should be applauded. Ethan Ives on the guitar, Seth Dalby playing bass, and Andrew Katz behind the drums succeed in bringing each song to life in an inspiring fashion.
You don’t have to be a long-time Car Seat Headrest fan to recognize this distinct and obvious truth: the 2018 reworkings of Twin Fantasy made a great album into a brilliant album. From both a musical and lyrical standpoint, it’s a great thing that the world gets to see Twin Fantasy as the bold, dangerous, and truly awesome album that Toledo dreamed it to be in 2011.