Will Toledo, the central figure behind Car Seat Headrest, is pretty much the best thing to ever come out of indie rock; he’s kind of like a “Brian Wilson meets Steve Malkmus meets clinical depression” type, and he’s mastered this aesthetic to the highest degree. 2015’s “Teens of Denial” was his first full budget studio project, and it stands as arguably his defining work. The instrumentals here are strong, mostly consisting of catchy guitar lines and straightforward rock drumming, though additional instrumentation comes up fairly frequently in the form of trumpets, synths and a cool xylophone part. What really elevates this project though is Will Toledo’s absolute mastery of songwriting. He’s witty, ironic, insightful and dynamic, and every song contains a strong hook and at least some memorable lines. The albums climax - “The Ballad of the Costa Concordia” - is a perfectly assembled summation of emotions, in which Toledo laments his failures, nurtures his discontentment, and closes out with a final rejection of everything; he gives up. Teens of Denial perfectly captures the essence of the dissatisfied young man, and for that I hold it in the same esteem as any other “rock masterpiece”; 5/5
- @zlogan of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library
"You have no right to be depressed, you haven't tried hard enough to like it."
I came of age musically in the 90s, so I am predisposed to like any music that has that sweet indie rock vibe. The oddly named Car Seat Headrest is the project of Will Toledo, who released a bunch of albums on Bandcamp before breaking through with his first "proper" album, "Teens of Style." Appropriately, his follow up, "Teens of Denial," is on fabled indie label Matador, which released albums by luminaries like Pavement, Guided by Voices, Cat Power, and Yo La Tengo. Some of those bands are in Toledo's DNA, but there's nothing retro sounding about him, from the sparkplug energy of the music to his droll lyrics. Though it runs long (70 minutes), it doesn't feel padded, but, rather, that Toledo has so much to get out. This will restore your faith in indie rock.
Better than average crunchy pop-rock nuggets with melodies galore and amped-up, hooky choruses that recall Nirvana and Guided by Voices. While not a perfect album, there's much to like here
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