Car Seat Headrest
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
When Will Toledo first began writing Twin Fantasy, he was a 17-year-old Bandcamp savant who had already self-recorded and released six full albums in the previous 18 months. But Twin Fantasy, an anxious, self-probing exploration of a failed relationship, sexuality, and adolescent identity, was Toledo’s high-school breakthrough, the record that helped Car Seat Headrest slowly become one of the internet’s greatest amateur rock and roll secrets. Four years later, the singer-songwriter-composer eventually signed with Matador Records for his label breakthrough Teens Of Style.
Six years after first releasing Twin Fantasy, Toledo has spent the better part of a year re-recording the album, giving it the expansive treatment that he’d always envisioned.
Best served by the new recordings are the album’s two bookending song-suites, the impressive 13-minute “Beach Life-In-Death” and the 16-minute “Famous Prophets.” With Toledo’s imaginative songscapes now fully fleshed out with clearly identifiable flurries of background vocals, layered guitars, and finely tuned drum sounds, Twin Fantasy’s playful commentary on rock/pop convention and cliché shine through more clearly than ever.
“Is it the chorus yet? No. It’s just the building of the verse,” Toledo mumbles on “Bodys.” “So when the chorus does come/ It’ll be more rewarding.”
“This is the end of the song,” he deadpans on the rewritten spoken-word ending to the album-closing title track. “And it is just a song.” Elsewhere, on “Sober To Death,” Toledo turns a repeated refrain in the song’s outro into a laboratory of tempo-changes that doubles as a sly commentary on the history of rock and roll rhythm.
Though some longtime fans may feel as though some of the imperfections that adorned Toledo’s original DIY bedroom release are lost in translation in this gorgeously polished release, in its new iteration Twin Fantasy is a deeply moving statement from one of indie rock’s freshest young voices.