Car Seat Headrest

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Teens of Style (2015), 5/10 (anthology)
Teens of Denial (2016), 6.5/10

Car Seat Headrest, the project of Virginia-based multi-instrumentalist Will Toledo, who released 12 albums on between 2010 and 2014, notably Twin Fantasy (2011). Relocating to Seattle, Toledo assembled the compilation Teens of Style (2015), mostly drawn from from My Back Is Killing Me Baby (2011). Sunburned Shirts is an odd combination of the vocal harmonies of the Mamas & Papas and of the hypnotic rhythms of the Animal Collective; and Maud Gone is a more sophisticated version of the same idea; and echoes of anthemic folk-rock of the 1960s also radiate from Something Soon; but mostly this is wallpaper melodic music, second-rate Guided By Voices dities, whether power-pop (The Drum) or garage-rock (Psst Teenagers Take off your Clo).

Teens of Denial (Matador, 2016) was announced as Toledo's 13th album (in just six years). Flanked by bassist Ethan Ives and drummer Andrew Katz, Toledo tried to sound like an old-fashioned power-trio but he lacked both the inspiration and the energy. At worst, this is flawed power-pop (Fill in the Blank). At best, this veers towards psychedelic space-rock and Toledo is in fact mainly a master of 1960s revisionism: the eight-minute Vincent, after a few minutes of minimalist doodling, blends the Rolling Stones and the Byrds of the Fifth Dimension the Them of Gloria. There is a dreamy Dylan-ian singalong (Drugs with Friends), a falsetto ballad (Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales), a Lou Reed-ian boogie (the eight-minute Cosmic Hero), etc. The mediocrity is rescued by the passionate confessional eleven-minute litany The Ballad of the Costa Concordia, especially the last four minutes that highlight Toledo's skills in architecting 1960s harmonies and rhythmic charge. But one can spend more time discussing the titles of the songs than discussing the songs themselves.

(Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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