OFF AIR — Car Seat Headrest

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I’ve been listening to the new Car Seat Headrest album since it was released last week. The album is a re-release/remaster/rework of one of Will Toledo’s first albums on Bandcamp. It’s a fantastic album, but I do like his previous album Teens of Denial more. Teens had a catchy hook in every song which made them more memorable. But that doesn’t mean Car Seat Headrest’s latest album, Twin Fantasy, isn’t any good. It’s rawer in both production and writing but still highlights the great song writing that we’ve come to expect from Toledo. And this is perfectly showcased on the second last track, Famous Prophets (Stars).

The epic sixteen-minute track rewrites what a modern rock epic should sound like. The length of the track might turn people off, but it almost feels operatic in style; the song transitions through individual sections with ease, sharing similar melodies through its different ‘acts’. The last time I heard a rock epic of this magnitude was Green Day’s Jesus of Suburbia. I’d say this one triumphs.

The track begins simple, a droning bass line plucks away behind Toledo’s slacker vocals. Distorted guitars kick in and add a fierce melody to the track early on. The instrumentation weaves in and out, the distorted guitars slide in and out like a chorus number moving from side-stage. The instrumentation supports Toledo’s song writing allowing it to take centre stage. Multiple times through Famous Prophets (Stars) the band crescendo into a sing-along style chorus, backing vocals providing a rich texture. But swiftly after reaching the peak of the chorus, the instrumentation cuts back down to the droning bass bobbing along. And we repeat the process again, but this time with a variant on the previous melody; moving to a new theme. Just like in an opera.

By the second build in the song we’ve reached the nine-minute mark and Toleto repeats the process for a final time. Piano chords begin to fade in like a royal introduction, still accompanied by the thick bass notes. The build hits it’s peak with a crisp drum introduction you’d expect from a Kiss show; it’s epic and kicks your adrenaline into overdrive. The distorted guitars fly back in and I envision flames shooting off stage like I’m at an 80s rock concert, probably Kiss. The final build to the track is the most satisfying, and maybe it’s because Car Seat Headrest has already toyed with us through two previous crescendos. Toleto screams in the background and quickly transitions into a falsetto harmony, the drums crash and the guitars solo up and down the neck. It’s well constructed mayhem.

I’m exhausted by the end of the sixteen minutes. Toleto has taken me through an epic journey of highs and lows, as if he’s Frodo and I’m Samwise Gamgee just coming along for the ride, cooking him some rabbit stew. Famous Prophets (Stars) is the highlight of Twin Fantasy and one of the best songs of the year. And yes, it’s still only February.


OFF AIR is my informal blog post, usually unfiltered and roughly edited.

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