Car Seat Headrest: it’s one of those nondescript things that could only become even mildly interesting as a musician’s pseudonym. The musician in question is Will Toledo, whose staggering thirteenth LP – he’s only in his twenties, for goodness sake – his latest record being a statement of intent.
Toledo is a true wordsmith and ‘Teens of Denial’ is, above all else, a lyrical treasure trove. Most sticking of all is the shout-it-from-the-rooftops, nonsensical on the surface, emotionally-charged chorus of rousing album high point ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’. “It doesn’t have to be like this / It doesn’t have to be like this / It doesn’t have to be like this / Killer whales, killer whales,” he insists defiantly on a number that deals with what he calls “post-party melancholia”.
Elsewhere, Toledo delves deeper and darker. “Hangovers feel so good when I know it’s the last one / Then I feel so good that I have another one,” he sings at the beginning of ‘(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)’ – what a mouthful that is – before later touching on the morbid on ‘1937 Skate Park’: “I steer clear of the graveyards / They are cliché in my death-obsessed generation”. He even manages to make the mundane strangely magical, lines such as “For the past year I’ve been living in a town that gets a lot of tourists in the summer months” on ‘Vincent’ delivered with a transformative nonchalance.
There’s so much going on here that it can be borderline overwhelming. It’s a record that’s enigmatic, a little deceptive in places, and thoroughly gripping throughout.