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Album Review: Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Style

By Eli Shively, Contributor

[Matador Records; 2015]

Rating: 3/5

Key Tracks: “Sunburned Shirts,” “Something Soon,” “Times to Die”

Will Toledo, the creative mastermind behind the lo-fi indie rock project Car Seat Headrest, can almost be defined as an artist by the phrase “wise beyond his years.” Once a teenage Bandcamp fiend, churning out collection after collection of various bedroom experiments, he’s now signed to Matador and presumably preparing to put the past behind him and start fresh with his label debut, Teens of Style, at the ripe young age of 23.

For someone who’s written and released upwards of 10 albums over half as many years, that may not seem like too daunting of a task. However, Toledo decided instead to dust off a select group of older tracks to be included on the record as well, giving Teens of Style more of an “essential introductory listening” type of feel.

Although the move is understandable given the recent rapid expansion of Car Seat’s audience, it takes away from the cohesiveness of the album as well as its credibility--instead of a collection of songs that define where the artist currently is, the listener is offered more of a mixed bag.

Toledo’s excellent songwriting ability, however, still manages to shine through all of the potential deal breakers. Themes of isolation, depression and the confusion of being a newly minted 20-something take center stage, backed by a fuzzed-out array of sounds that symbolize the mental stage that catalyzes his art. “Something Soon” serves as the highlight track, bringing an addictive hook, interesting sonic textures and excellent lyricism together to create something that hopefully represents where the project is headed.

In short, Toledo seems to be setting himself up to propel Car Seat Headrest to new heights with Teens of Style--he just needed a little time to make sure everything was in order.

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