Is It The Chorus Yet?


I’m excited! You’re excited! We’re all excited! It’s about damn time for us all to be hurled into the next dimension by Twin Fantasy with real equipment! Granted, Will produced this album sitting in an actual plastic lawn chair, but nostalgia is important, I guess. Anyways, it’s here! Without further ado: the best album of 2011; 2018 edition!

My Boy (Twin Fantasy) – It opens with silence, then the dull thud of a kick drum and sticks, mixed smooth as hell. The bass joins in, Will’s voice rises up quietly out of the instrumentals, you’re fully absorbed in this experience, the guitars come in with a springtime-light quality, the vocals slip into falsetto, this song is exactly what you wanted all along, and then ELECTRIC GUITARS. Not fuzzed-out electric guitars. You are listening to Twin Fantasy without fuzziness, to be expected, but- what is happening. One gets the feeling listening to the “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba”s that there was a crescendo that they somehow missed. Something got kind of lost in translation from the second verse to the third, and subsequently the third to the ending. The kick drums aren’t warranted, the screaming isn’t warranted, nothing… happened. There’s no bridge through any part of this song, and it sounds like it passed in 30 seconds instead of 3 minutes.

Beach Life-In-Death – Why, you ask, why are the vocals the loudest part while also being the flattest. I am completely unsure. The mild confusion from earlier is relatively tamed by the instrumental portion around 1:15, where that bass comes in and you kind of notice the drums. Andrew and Seth are consistently fantastic. So is Ethan, but someone fucked up with the volume knobs or something. It’s going a little shakily until you realize that the song starts when Will screams “DOGS!” for some reason. Everything before that is mixed in a bit of a strange order and and it’s slower than usual to the point of being unnerving. The rest of part 1 is pretty unremarkable, and the 2011 nostalgia overrides the actual quality upon first listen. Part 2, however, is all handled excellently and welcomed with open arms, notably when the guitar really comes back in around the 7:00 mark and starts getting fast and loud at the same time, which is how it was supposed to be in the first place. The new lyrics are performed wonderfully, and the bridge into the satanist-with-braces verse is reassuring. The guitar blast into part 3 improves each time I listen to it, but it’s perpetually for some reason in the rhythm guitar slot instead of the lead. The added guitar flourishes definitely contribute something good here as a sidenote. The ending is actually done nicely, which is good since I was kind of afraid of it before listening since it relies pretty heavily on the Garageband aspect on Mirror to Mirror. It’s a dick move from beyond to blame Will for not singing emotionally, since obviously there’s loads of context behind it, but man, this album sounds like it doesn’t want to exist so far if you focus on that. It gets better past this song, but, shaky start.

Stop Smoking (We Love You) – Out of the gate the vocals are more pleasing than anything else heard so far. The layering is constructed better than I’d have figured, and it creates an effect that’s unexpected but not necessarily in a bad way. It functions as a palate-cleanser on Face to Face like it did originally on Mirror to Mirror, but somehow in a totally different way, like quality (of performance) instead of quantity (of sheer minutes). There’s not a lot to say about this one, being that it’s 1:29 long. I will point out that somebody had a liiiittle too much fun trying to balance all the sounds out when they were producing this record, and this song is a good microcosm of that, but it actually carries itself out with dignity.

Sober To Death – WHOA. Those acoustic guitars are REALLY moody. It’s exactly the right mood, too, and the thing is that everything about this intro is pretty damn near perfect if it wasn’t for the solitary wobbled bass note trying to wedge itself in there. It forces you to focus on it, and then you’re not listening to the other aspects of the music. The vocals are sung with emotion that leads me to believe that Will figured out how to act like he cared around “Stop Smoking.” That sounds douchey. I promise it’s a good thing. Another thing to note is that Andrew Katz is literally too good of a drummer to be drumming on this album. Twin Fantasy is not a ‘good-at-drums’ album, Twin Fantasy is looped and fuzzy and over-warm and giddily pulling for average. This is none of those things, and I recognize the “remake” part of this whole experiment, but it falls a tad flat on the execution. The chorus, again, would be excellent if not for the falsetto in the background. Ethan does a great job with the backup vocals, and I kind of wish he’d done the ones in the chorus along with Will’s lead. The bridge between the second verse and the second chorus is… just… enjoyable. Flat-out enjoyable. I am a big, big fan of the instruments dropping out during “crash into each other.” The way the outro is written has a good pace to it, and it’s worked in a way that recalls Mirror to Mirror while also being something new. Props to this one.

Nervous Young Inhumans – This song was good since it came out as a single. The electronic quality is one of the most well-carried-out things on the entire record, from the looping intro all the way through the instrumentals and the verses. The bass is also back to being a smooth undercurrent rather than kind of uncomfortable. The Mirror to Mirror version of this song is the weakest track on that album, and this song is the ONLY one that has any glimmer of the “fixed” quality to it that I’ve been told the band wanted to create. The guitar noise is also done incredibly well on this track. The monologue is not only well-written and well-delivered, but also has the “galvanistic/galvanic” piece of trivia behind it, which is hilarious. The guitar behind the spoken-word portion also ties into it very well. I don’t have a single problem with this song.

Bodys – VERY UNEXPECTED, VERY UNEXPECTED, VERY UNEXPECTED, WHAT IS HAPPENING. This song is a rollercoaster. The synth-y bass-drum-y thing that’s going on in the beginning is super fucking weird, I’ll honestly put it like that, and by the time the riff comes in for the first time you’re kind of deciding how best to express the discomfort this song is immediately creating. It sounds like one of the demos Will posts on tumblr when he’s screwing around in Logic or something. However! Then the riff starts in the lead guitar spot and that little piece of background noise comes in, and that’s still just as catchy as it ever was. The vocals in this song have long since hit the mark of caring, so they’re going down smooth. The drums in here actually work as well-performed. The chorus(es? “Bodys” sort of defeats song structure) is/are handled JUST how they should be, and the new lyrics in the “this rope has grown old and bitter” part are a nice touch. I’ll admit the first time I heard this version of the song I hated it to an extreme degree, but the more I listen the more I start to develop a soft spot for it. I suppose that’s true for the whole record. It’s still a song that you’d want to play at full volume and scream along to, and actually the sentimentality stops mattering, which is kind of interesting. Give this one time, I promise. (also always a fan of that sick-ass 1TraitDanger content.)

Cute Thing – Definitely the remake portion of this experiment in the first few seconds. Perhaps the polar opposite of the original intro is the single-strummed chords and lower vocals, which are somewhere in between the cloud-9 ecstatic hollering on the original and the gentle sad picking of most of the recent live versions. The electric guitars kick into gear right after that, and then it’s loud and hollering and excellent. More new lyrics, including a nod to Frank Ocean (and he’s gonna cover “White Ferrari” live!). This is a little like “Nervous Young Inhumans” in the sense that it just sounds like the old song but higher quality. The newly stuttered lines where they should have been stuttered the whole time are pretty satisfying, and in general they did a really good job here, including the fadeout of the vocals during “I am loved” and the new little outro. It ties in very well to the next track.

High To Death – I was anticipating this one VERY highly. (Ha.) The original song relies almost entirely on the shitty-Garageband aspect of it, where the song feels like it’s crumbling underneath you while you’re listening to it, so it was a little anxiety-inducing to think about how they handled it this time around. There’s very little reverb in this version, but it works. It’s sticky-sounding, and the exact mood that’s being shot for is a sticky sadness. Again, like “Sober To Death,” the drums are a little too smooth for this song, but there’s so much else that’s pleasant to focus on that that ends up being fine. There’s a song or two on this record where the idea to call back the old versions and still create something new fell short, but this is not one of those. I really, really like the kid shouting in the middle and the art portfolio recording at the end, as well as the snippet from “Overexposed (Enjoy)” at the end to replace the part from “Jugband Blues” that they couldn’t use anymore. It’s an excellent lead-in to Stars and I think the point on the record when it really does become something more than Twin Fantasy. Sidebar, this is nitpicky, but I do wish there’d been a second of silence between the end of “Cute Thing” and the beginning of this song to bridge it.

Famous Prophets (Stars) – Spoilers, this is the best song on the record by not just miles but entire galaxies. It opens with the bassline sounding a little squished, like you’re in a box. The vocals join you in your box, and then the drums, simplistic as always, and you’re enjoying your little box of “Famous Prophets,” when BAM. Here come the electric guitars, and, yeah, okay. That’s fucking awesome. Ethan delivered a 11/10 performance throughout this entire beast bar none. The layered vocals drip in soon after like a callback to “High To Death” and then morph into a totally new verse, and THEN become a chorus that’s bursting at the seams, which it finally does. Every instrumental snippet in this song is absolutely incredible. The chorus leads into that little quiet part, made all the more intriguing with muffled vocals and quick bursts of static throughout. This is no longer “Famous Prophets.” This is its own entity. It feels odd to even call it “Famous Prophets” anymore. The “ocean washed over your grave” part melts into something of a jam session, and then the completely rewritten “Painstar” (!) verses introduce themselves, along with guitar instrumentation that is purely, simply, beautiful and drum crashes to accentuate. This beauty becomes the piano section, which is such that you have to close your eyes and just experience it. Forgive me but this song is fucking ridiculous. The bass behind the piano. The VOCALS. Come on. Elements of the next part (are they numbered?) begin to seep in, first slowly but then faster and faster, drums and noise and synths and a voice you don’t recognize all layered on top of each other, and then. HOLY. FUCK. There are no words. None at all. “Painstar” plus Ethan in his element plus Andrew in his element plus the trumpet plus literally everything else about all of this. I apologize if you expect me to be articulate. The song fades out with the apparent Bible verse that inspired the ‘Mirror to Mirror’/’Face to Face’ names, and then you have to sit there for awhile and think about who you were before you heard this song.

Twin Fantasy (Those Boys) – The funeral march organs accompany Will’s distorted voice from the first second. The pained high notes at the beginning of the verses are performed relatively goddamned spectacularly, as is that sticky-hot bassline in the not-so-distant background. Everything further crumbles into bedroom-made synthesizers and Will’s voice stumbling over itself (metaphorically and literally, I suppose) to create a sound akin to My Back is Killing Me Baby. The monologue of this song is far and away one of my favorite parts of this record, and this is the only one that hit me emotionally near as hard as the original, so I’ve absolutely got some respect for it. The screamed backup vocals are done just right. I hadn’t known that the outro of the thrown headphones and fridge opening was on the original album, but it was, just quieter, so this fits better with that knowledge. It’s hard to follow up something like “Stars,” but this song functions as a palate-cleanser like it wasn’t before. Nearly seven minutes pass like two, and then it’s over.

TL;DR I wrote a wall of text about this album and now I’m gonna have to sum it up, aren’t I. The first half gets off to an extremely shaky start, but it works itself out, and some parts are more listenable than others. However, the second half is fucking incredible. I eat my words a lot on stuff like this but I’ve heard this album about five times now and I can honestly say that “Stars” is in the top 5 songs Will has ever written. If I don’t see every major music publication devoting space to this song I am going to do it my damn self. In my opinion (gross!) “Stars” was by far the best track and “Beach Life…” by far the worst. There is a very large spectrum in between the two, and I’ve come to appreciate it from an artistic standpoint. All in all, I’m glad this happened. It was a good experiment musically. We all got to freak out for a while. We’re all gonna lose our shit on April 21st when Mirror to Mirror comes out on vinyl. The new lyrics are something to behold entirely. I’m very, very glad Will and friends did this.

Enjoy your night. Whoever listens to it the most in a 24-hour period wins.



You Haven’t Tried Hard Enough to Like It

Evenin’, folks! I’ve been on a Teens of Denial kick lately, which is quite a mix of feelings what with Twin Fantasy coming out. I was rereading that post Will made about Twin Fantasy vs Denial and how they’re both concept albums, but one is a romance and one is a bildungsroman, and I’ve been trying to listen to Denial as a concept album. With Twin Fantasy it’s much easier, I can’t exactly say why, but I think it’s because the songs are laid out in order of the way the relationship portrayed on it went, so it’s easy to follow along. Denial is harder to experience this way, and I cannot for the life of me figure out the reason, so I’m gonna make a column out of it in hopes to understand Will. I’ll update you by the end. (Overexposed) enjoy.

Fill in the Blank – I’m already cheating by skipping ahead, but the main character seems to be Joe, so I’ll tell this about Joe. Anyways, here’s Joe introducing himself to us with, plain and simple, both how depressed he is and how angry about being depressed he is. It’s quite an opening. He’s already tried to fix the problem, he can’t, everyone keeps giving him suggestions that he finds idiotic, and he has resigned to just giving up and complaining about it, albeit poetically, on the first track. Joe is shaping up to be a fun guy. (Scratch that, I can’t judge Joe. I am Joe. We’re all Joe.)

Vincent – Our main character has laid down the foundations of how upset he is, and here seem to be the details. I can’t decide if “Vincent” is hazier or more sarcastic than “Fill in the Blank,” but it’s definitely somewhere in the mix. The chorus of this one in particular is pretty interesting since it’s laid out as Joe Gives Up On Himself, then there are a couple lines of Maybe Joe Did Not Quit After All, and then it goes back to Nevermind, Joe Is A Bucket Of Self-Loathing. He seems to talk about himself a lot, Joe does. Maybe that’s the point. It’s not that this song is filler, it’s that it deserves more than a paragraph. I hope I come back to “Vincent” sometime.

Destroyed By Hippie Powers – I think this is the beginning of Joe reacting to events rather than Joe talking about himself. It also seems the beginning of Joe thinking that sobriety is something to be defeated. This song seems a little panicky to me, and I can’t decide if that’s a side effect of the first part or the second, but it’s there all the same, and by the end of the song we have a fucked-up dude. This song goes from nervous to cocky, which is an excellent jump into the hangover that is the next song.

Drugs With Friends – Like i said, hangover. Joe is talking about how much he hates doing drugs yet continues to try in the first bit of the song, and I think he comes to the conclusion that indeed drugs are bad, but he will continue to do awful things to himself. This strikes me as a sampler of that feeling when you’re upset about something and try to take comfort in a very small part of it, like, I’m ruining my body and mental health and social life, but at least I know it’s morally wrong to do it! There’s also a bit of commentary I’ve read about the appalling nature of using drugs as social currency, and again there is more to be said about that, but this is a story, and meta does not fit well in stories unless of course you are Will Toledo. Alas.

Not What I Needed – It’s not that this is the weakest song lyrically on the album, it’s that this is the hardest to fit in as a puzzle piece in this context. Maybe that’s because it’s not the originally planned version for this album. It seems like maybe a… maybe not happier, but more upbeat version of giving up, as if Joe has resigned to the fact that being bitter is harder than just not caring. There are definitely some hopeless lines in this one, but it seems to me more transitioning into that stage of trying to start anew in life and not really being able to do it correctly, like he’s tried it one too many times and attempting to do so has lost the spark it once had.

Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales – This is the mental breakdown. Joe gets drunk (as is often the case) and tries to work up the courage drive home and ends up just collapsing into the “it doesn’t have to be like this, killer whales” refrain. Pretty self-explanatory- it doesn’t have to be like this. Joe doesn’t have to keep doing this to himself, but he does. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be like this! He can do something about it! Turn off the engine, get out of the car, and start to walk. The killer whales complete this thought, what with the “Blackfish” explanation. This song works really, really well as a turning point, and I’m glad it’s the halfway-through track.

1937 State Park – Our lovely main character is once again thinking about how useless he is. He’s watching everyone watch this high school kid dying (maybe it’s metaphorical, who knows) and everybody celebrating this kid’s life and being upset and emotional about it, and here’s Joe thinking that he didn’t have much of a life to celebrate at all. Nothing is going to happen when he’s gone. He wants to do something to be remembered by, but his ideas are less than moral. He seems to be quite worried about this, but sort of refuses to do anything but dance around the issue.

Unforgiving Girl – I think this is the only full song that can be compared to something of a love song, but it’s a Joe-styled love song in the sense that it’s, and forgive me for saying this, kind of whiny at points. He seems to have known this girl at one time in his life, and he talks about how he doesn’t regret breaking up with her (or whatever the situation was), but then he goes into the first pre-chorus where he suddenly talks about her in a nicer tone. Then at the last verse he’s back to disliking her. It’s very flip-floppy, and I’d think it’s more of a narrative decision than a plot point, but I suppose I don’t know for sure. It functions well as one, anyways.

Cosmic Hero – This song, every line of this song, is the internal monologue of someone who knows they’re depressed, and who knows they’re admitting it by being the way that they are, but still tries to act like they don’t want to admit it. Joe is a terrible person more or less, and he’s not helping himself, but he’s acting high-and-mighty to balance it out. It’s not a crescendo because “Costa Concordia” is the crescendo to end all others, but it’s one hell of a buildup to say the least. There is also absolutely a swirl of Intrusive Thoughts: The Musical with lines like “you could lie down in the river at last/and let the dread complete you.” Even with “Fill in the Blank” on the record, I think this is the best translation of thoughts like this into lyrics, and if not this song, it’s definitely…

The Ballad of the Costa Concordia – Yeah. This one hits too, and I absolutely need to make a solitary post about this beast (monster thing). “Costa Concordia” is the most give-up track I have maybe ever heard (if there are others, they’re also by Car Seat Headrest, I promise you that), to the point where there’s an entire section that’s just “I GIVE UUUUUUUP.” At first Joe is just wallowing, as he is wont to do, but then he jumps into the spoken monologue. The monologue, which is actually pretty powerful, is the first time that Joe convincingly attempts to paint himself in a better light. At least a light in which he is less responsible for his own destruction. The last verse especially is what I think marks the coming-to-terms-with-it pinpoint on the record, when it hits Joe in real time that he’s hurting the people he loves.

Connect the Dots – A turning point of sorts? Joe starts thinking about going to heaven and meeting all these people, but accidentally leads himself to the conclusion that he doesn’t really want to do it so bad that he’d do it on purpose. He’s going to have to deal with his life himself. It’s his own responsibility, and he can’t just rely on depression to get it done for him. Truth be told I forget this song exists a lot, it ties itself to “Joe Goes to School” in my head in terms of lyrical content. Sidebar, I think the space/heaven theme (motif? Theme or motif? No one has taught me these things.) anyways i think the space/heaven theme-tif is very interesting. It shows up on How to Leave Town, which is the outtakes version of Denial too, and I just like it as a concept.

Joe Goes to School – The conclusion is wrapped up into a nice shiny horse metaphor for your pleasure. “It was just a horse, I couldn’t tell if it was sad or not” is the pinnacle of trying to be poetic about terrible things that are happening to you and giving up about it and recognizing that they’re not even that big of a deal. You have to bike away and stop being an embarrassing poet in public. Go back to school, for fucks sake. It’s not that Joe’s, and by default Will’s problems aren’t a big deal, since I don’t know his life, just that it’s a damn good microcosm of the record. The melody for this song is taken from “the ghost of bob saget,” which while an excellent song is pretty difficult for me to tie in here metaphorically. It’s entirely possible that it’s a really good riff but just was originally used for a song about a comic called “Asscastle” which in turn is about sucking ghost dick.

Okay, time for notes! The “Hometown Hero” side (side A) is a lot easier to look at laid out than the “Cosmic Hero” side (side B), since the lyrics are clearer about real events from a first person perspective. “Joe did acid and has to reflect on how terrible his life is going” is a lot easier to understand than, say, any part of “Connect The Dots.” I also totally get what Will was saying about this being a self-centered record now, which sunk in around the fourth time I started to write ‘he’s complaining about himself again.’ Track-by-track analysis definitely pays off more when you’re trying to sound like a professional with a blog. There is also a lot more that I really need to do individual columns about, since it looks weird if “Costa Concordia” gets three paragraphs but “Joe Goes to School” is just a really long Lamezone joke. Oh well.

Oh boy, I need to write more. This wasn’t about Twin Fantasy but in conclusion:



I’m late, I know I’m late. This happened on the 13th, it’s the 23rd, c’mon, dude. Anyways, hey! Did you know about Twin Fantasy! Have you heard “Beach Life-In-Death”! WOW!

Getting over the fact that this song can be 13:18 long (a whole 1:08 longer than the original) and still be a masterpiece-slash-incredible-slash-iconic-slash-etc, which, don’t get me wrong, I would love to talk about, there does need to be some actual professional-ish discussion about the concept of remaking an album like this. Should I say re-recording? I guess it’s a remake. Well, whatever it is, what are the benefits of having a lo-fi indie record where the POINT is that it’s a lo-fi indie record remade into the product of a real studio and equipment? Are there any?

One argument that I saw about a week ago that I’ve been thinking about a lot is that this new “Beach Life” is what 19-year-old Will wanted it to sound like six years ago in his bedroom but couldn’t do. The original version is the stuff of something I cannot put into words and changed both my life and a lot of other peoples’, so I’m not gonna say it’s shitty (for the record, in my opinion nothing can or will ever beat 2011 Twin Fantasy), it’s just that there are some things you really cannot overcome due to the circumstances of your crappy MacBook and the roommate who’s home too often. Like, in this new version, for example, we have a bassline to end all other basslines, perfectly cut under everything else, that Will simply could not have recorded so cleanly back then. It goes down smooth as water in the 2017 version, but the 2011 version is fuzzy and blended and there’s no room for the improvisational-sounding piece that Seth handles. (And SO well, holy shit.)

The other significant thing that changed besides that is the taken-away “thank god for the little things” verse and the addition of that snippet we all thought was brilliant in the Frank Ocean cover last year. For clarity, here’s the old one:

A book of Aubrey Beardsley art
corrupted me in youth
now I’m trapped inside my youth
and you’re in love with late-stage youth
Thank god for the little things and and
fuck god that they’re little things I am
running out of prayers to sing

And here’s the new:

In a mall in the nighttime
you came back alone with a flashlight
(reversed) the start of nothing new
and it was my favorite scene
I couldn’t tell you what it means
but it meant something to me

Firstly, you must take into account the positions of these two variations of Will. One is a depressed 19-year-old in his first gay long distance relationship, and the other is a significantly (I hope) happier 25-year-old with his shit more or less together. The first verse makes sense in the context it’s in; he’s in the moment and he doesn’t think he’s ever gonna get out of what feels like the Grand Canyon of unfortunate events. However, the second one makes sense too; it’s less desperate. He’s looking back. Like I said, he’s got his shit together, and he’s not experiencing this for the first time again. The verse change is not only because “fuck god that they’re little things” is probably not a mentality one wants to remind themselves of, but it’s also for growth, for… something like nostalgia, I suppose, and he fucking nailed it.

Okay, after the praise, circling around to my original question: what’s gonna change for everything else? I’m a little on the fence about getting an entire remake of this album, to be completely honest here. The original Twin Fantasy is nothing short of a masterpiece, and one of the many, many, MANY things you have to take into account is the production quality of such an album. The software is GarageBand, the mic is one of a college student, Will’s voice hasn’t dropped yet and still holds that emotional squeak that current-day flat-affect grown-up Will can’t emulate. I can’t imagine “Cute Thing” without the overly happy grin on the “weird sex” line, nor can anyone properly experience “High to Death” without feeling like the song is disintegrating beneath your feet. Even “Bodys,” the obvious single, what everyone thought would be the first redone song, the one everyone points to, plain and simply isn’t what it IS without the dull thud of the drum intro rather than a sharper, bassier Katz-ed part. I don’t know, it’s just something to think about.

But hey, what do I know, I listened to “Beach Life” the second it came out and ascended directly to heaven for 13 minutes. So.

Can’t wait for the album!

Good Opening Tracks, We Don’t See Each Other Much

Firstly, sorry for being a piece of shit about writing. I thought this was gonna be every day. It was not every day.

Anyways today I want to talk/rant about the openers on every CSH album. The thing that got me involved in this particular subject is the Nervous Young Man/Twin Fantasy debacle as of late, and being that I listened to Twin Fantasy like three times yesterday, I’m listening to Nervous Young Man now, and “Boxing Day” pisses me off to NO end, so, here I am. I’ll go in order for convenience’s sake.

1– Everything from 2010 exists in an alternate dimension in which you must factor in the experimentality of all of it, so I’m not gonna critique it like “oh no THIS song should have been the opener” because it’s more or less a sound experiment. That being said, “tybee island horse ghosts” is a damn good song for the context it’s in. I get Disjecta Membra vibes, which I suppose makes sense. This song is pretty catchy, and the trumpet totally works with it, as does the unexpected reversal part at the very end. Points to Will for the first ever Car Seat song being good.

2– “Smokezone” falls under the same category, the ‘this is a lot more catchy than it’s given credit for’ vacuum. It’s noisy, and it’s meant to be. I don’t have a lot to say on this one. It’s a good song, you know? It works!

3– YES! YES! THIS IS HOW YOU DO AN OPENING SONG! I’m so happy about “no starving.” “No starving” is the last track, “oh! starving,” played in reverse. It sounds cool, it’s engaging, and it’s INTERESTING. It’s also in that format of tracklists where the first song is not yet the absolute banger but the introduction. “No starving” then leads into “portrait of the artist…,” which is the first one you want to stick around for. 3 is so pleasantly, satisfyingly cohesive. I love it.

4– Okay. “A good bridge to never cross…” is an alright opening track, it really is, but here’s the thing: if the song had started when the drums did, it would have worked so much better. Maybe the first part, the acoustic-ish part, could have been snipped from that and closed the album out or something (though “around” does a good job of that, actually). Also, it’s long. It feels really long. The thing is, it’s not that long, but it’s so repetitive. I’ll rephrase: “a good bridge to never cross…” would have been an alright opening track if it was about three minutes shorter.

Little Pieces of Paper…– I don’t think this is meant to be listened to as an album. It’s not really “I’m going to sit down and listen to Little Pieces… and focus on it,” it’s more of a skip-around deal. For an outtakes album, “leave together” functions as an opener, but ALL of them function as an opener, and all of them function as a closer. So.

My Back is Killing Me Baby- “The drum” is a good opener! It’s not the best on this album just because of the production quality, I think if it had been less fuzzy it would have resonated more, but it works! This whole album seems shaky to me, so I feel a little bad about giving it shit. The obvious problem can’t be helped, so for what it’s worth, it definitely works.

Twin Fantasy- DON’T EVEN LOOK IN MY DIRECTION. I hesitate to say this is the best opening track I have ever heard in my entire fucking life, but, dude, it’s up there. Those drums! That bass! Those VOCALS! The perfect jump down the scale from A to D! And the STORY! It fits so well in the context of the concept, it’s SUCH an introduction. And then, of course, it slams you into “Beach Life-in-Death,” which, like, holy shit. Twin Fantasy is a masterpiece.

Monomania- “Romantic Theory” may not be my favorite song in the world, but damn does that WOMMM from the electric guitar blow you out of the water. So do the drums, and the pause between guitar-to-vocals-to-drum-beat is just short enough to confuse you at the same time as hyping you up for the rest of the album. If you want a song that’s not especially made to be an introduction but still happens to be introductory, look to Monomania and Teens of Denial.

Starving While Living- Will only had five choices, and this is a little pocket of anomaly in the corner of the Car Seat Bandcamp page, but I love “It’s Only Sex.” It works the best out of the five. Will did a good job with Starving While Living.

Nervous Young Man– I apologize but, fuck “Boxing Day.” The real serious reason that this album seems too “dense” is because 3/4 of the audience checks out during the 15-minute drone of a song that for some reason is supposed to be the hook. It worked on the Nervous Young Men album, but holy shit, it really was not meant for this slot. He could have started with “Knife In The Coffee” or something and ended with “Some Strange Angel!” That was RIGHT THERE! It bothers me every time i think about it.

Disjecta Membra- Another PERFECT example of the intro-song-then-banger format. “Endpiece” into “Please Mr. Pilot” is the world’s best jumping-off point into the absolute forest that is Disjecta, especially since “Please Mr. Pilot” is, technically, according to science, a bop from beyond.

How to Leave Town- THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE A LONG-ASS SONG THE INTRO TO AN ALBUM. YES. “THE ENDING OF DRAMAMINE,” GOD YES. It sets the tone for the rest of the EP (EP? Album? What do the kids call it at this point?), it genuinely sounds awesome, and unlike an opener like the one on 4, you don’t notice that five entire minutes have passed until they have. The drums are kickass. The synths are kickass. The next 2/3 of the song ties into the first 1/3. It’s satisfying to listen to. THIS is how you approach this.

Teens of Style– For an album that’s just a bunch of songs that were never meant to be in this order, Teens of Style flows scarily well, and this absolutely includes “Sunburned Shirts.” God, like, the entire point is that it’s highlights start to finish, and Will still tracklisted it perfectly. Is that a verb? Whatever. “Sunburned Shirts” was both refreshing for old listeners and is an excellent dive into Car Seat’s older stuff for new ones.

Teens of Denial– (clears throat) Holy shit. “Fill in the Blank” will change your life. This is perhaps the catchiest track one I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. If an album’s first song isn’t engaging, what’s the point? And Teens of Denial went completely above and beyond on that front. I’m very happy about the way that one worked out.

I really do apologize to everyone who likes “Boxing Day,” but that’s how it is sometimes. This got really long. I’m going to go back to Nervous Young Man. Have a good day, and I hope Spotify/whoever’s in charge here unfucks itself.

[The Break Down]

The first way I considered beginning this post is, and I quote: “HOLY FUCK, HAVE YOU HEARD TWIN FANTASY?” which I’ll admit is not a super terrible way to begin an article. As you’d expect, today I am going to be talking/screeching loudly about Twin Fantasy.  This is my favorite Car Seat Headrest album, which you must know takes a LOT, because every album besides, like, Little Pieces of Paper…, is my favorite Car Seat Headrest album.

I had to try to condense my thoughts into a single song, but I couldn’t even do that, so today I’m going to talk a pair of songs on Twin Fantasy. These songs in particular are “Stop Smoking” and “High to Death.” In the context of the album, which is absolutely a concept album, basically every song besides “High to Death” (I’m on the fence about “Nervous Young Inhumans”) is one that you could recommend to someone who’d never listened to Twin Fantasy and they’d be like, “Whoa! I gotta hear the rest of this!”, but this song isn’t really that. Keeping track of the entire record’s consistency is vital to understanding it.

Twin Fantasy is a story. It’s a concept album about a long-distance relationship Will was in with a boy over the internet. He lived in Virginia. This boy lived in Kansas. Each song is laid out in chronological order, with the first song as the spark of the relationship and the last song as Will beginning to move on from the breakup, and it’s an extremely emotional album. “Stop Smoking” the third track of ten, and “High to Death” is the eighth.

The only lyrics in “Stop Smoking,” less than a minute and a half long, are “stop smoking, we love you, and we don’t want you to die.” It’s a palate-cleanser for the 12-minute beast of a song that comes directly before it (my second-favorite song on Twin Fantasy, “Beach Life-in-Death”), and it’s a seemingly sweet acoustic song that’s really there to catalogue for later. This is where “High to Death” comes in. “High to Death,” contrarily, is where the relationship starts to crumble beneath Will’s feet. The song itself is in a state of decay (which is why it can’t be played on its own; it’s purely for context), filled with echoey overlaid vocal effects and instrumentals in a sick haze. The song before IT, “Cute Thing,” is its polar opposite, which shakes you up even more. There’s a bit in the middle of “High to Death,” underneath the guitars, that goes “keep smoking, I love you, and I don’t want to die” one key down from the first version.

Not only is this one of the most beautiful parts of the album in my opinion, it’s fucking heartbreaking. I love it to pieces. One of the things that so intrigues me about Twin Fantasy is the references on it; there are nods to They Might Be Giants’ “Ana Ng,” Dan Bejar, John Entwistle (“Cute Thing”), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (“Nervous Young Inhumans”), the Bible (“Famous Prophets”), Will’s own work (“Beach Life-in-Death,” “Twin Fantasy,” and of course the two I talked about), and probably more I’m forgetting. It’s an odd little collection, but as with all of Car Seat’s music, it’s most definitely Will.

There wasn’t much of a point to this column, I’ll admit, I wrote half on one day and half tonight, and I really just wanted to talk about Twin Fantasy. Someday I’ll do more. Take this.

Rest In Pieces Will Toledo’s Printer (2011-2015)

Today I’m gonna talk about “Something Soon,” which probably is going to evolve into some sort of terrifying meta like the column on “Cosmic Hero” did. Fun!

This is another of those songs where I just LIKE it. The complexity of the reasons I like “Something Soon” is probably somewhere between “Maud Gone” and “Beach Life-in-Death,” if that’s comprehensible. The song lyrically just glancing at it is pretty difficult to analyze through the lens of how it’s changed over the years, since the only thing that Will did was go from “working printer” to “busted printer” (hence my shitty title), but it’s meaningful otherwise anyways. It’s a desperate song, and not in the way that Car Seat’s other desperate songs function. Like, “Bodys” is desperate, but “Bodys” POUNDS, and you can really feel it in the tone of his voice. The version of “Something Soon” on My Back is Killing Me Baby has the same quality in the way Will’s voice dips during the choruses especially, which is one of the reasons I appreciate Car Seat’s unreliable vocals. However I think it gets lost in translation on Teens of Style, which I find kind of interesting. The Style version is still an excellent song, Andrew Katz’s drumming remains as incredible as it always is, but the vocals have lost their… emotionality. I’m probably just being nitpicky (of course I’m just being nitpicky) but the version on My Back is Killing Me Baby is the one where you can really feel it.

I feel like I need to expand on how I feel about Teens of Style. Teens of Style is one of those albums that I could listen to no matter what the mood is, which is pretty rare, and it sounds good on paper, but I think that’s because the reworkings have lost a lot of the emotion that contributes to the way one can only sometimes listen to My Back is Killing Me Baby or Monomania. I love the project, you don’t know how much joy it brings me to hear the production quality on the Style “Maud Gone” vs the Monomania version, but a lot of the songs have lost what makes them special. Not that they’re not still amazing songs (and they definitely benefit in some sense from the better recordings), it’s that you can’t record the exact same emotion twice. You just can’t. Like, the lyrics on Style‘s “No Passion” are extremely different than the ones from 2011 (“fucking goddamn how I love your shoulders”), but I actually don’t feel like the new lyrics are less superior. The My Back is Killing Me Baby version is a different emotion, and yes, they’re funnier, but the Style version’s lyrics convey something that could have been filler but wonderfully isn’t. A note: I think “Times To Die” is the one exception to this, in that the Teens of Style version is better (to me at least) lyrically than the one on Monomania. “Hey man, we listened to your demos” and the line about Chris Lombardi jump out for obvious reasons.

Here, I’ll stop being a bitch for a second: the second chorus of “Something Soon” on the Teens of Style version where Will is four-part harmonizing with himself and his backup vocals before the instruments kick back in is one of my favorite things on that entire album. I hate to use an adjective like this, but really, it’s pretty. The guy’s high register is overlooked a lot; why no one talks about the ending of “Strangers” is beyond me. The electric guitar in “Sunburned Shirts” on Style is also one of my favorite sections of a newer Car Seat song, as is, um, the entirety of “Maud Gone.” (I tried to pick just part of it, I really did.) The piano on “Oh! Starving” definitely took the new production well compared to the plink-iness on 3. I love the instrumentals on Teens of Style, genuinely I do, it’s just the vocals. Teens of Denial, even, was more emotional in its shrieking.

I feel like this should have a point to it besides accidentally ripping Style apart. I’ll just go with the tried-and-true “stop complaining about Will getting signed.”

I’m gonna go listen to both versions of “Something Soon” over and over out of spite for myself.


If You Really Wanna Know Yourself/Check How Many Times You’ve Played Teens of Denial On

Full disclaimer, I fucking love Teens of Denial. This is possibly going to make me sound like an asshole, but I really don’t agree with all the people who are talking about “how bad it is compared to his older albums.” I could agree that it’s not as deep as, say, Twin Fantasy (my personal favorite), but you must admit that almost the entire album is amazing both musically and lyrically. If you like the more emotional stuff, then yes, please go listen to your other favorite Car Seat album and tell me all about it, but TRY to give Teens of Denial a chance.

Today the song I’ve got stuck in my head is “Cosmic Hero.” A note: How to Leave Town is made up mostly of songs that didn’t make it onto Denial, and this is the one that sounds the most like it could have been on How to Leave Town. There’s a certain production quality, for obvious reasons, that doesn’t let it fit in this state, but if Will had left it unpolished i could absolutely see it on How to Leave Town.

This song is, when you first look at it, very oddly placed on Denial, because it begins with this sharp shiny horn intro, two measures of a solid high G, and you’re sort of expecting some kind of electric guitar or drum beat to come in after the last eight songs on the record did the same thing (minus”Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” but even that introduction was shorter). Instead the lone trumpet keeps soloing, and it evolves into a mini-symphony of harmonizing for an entire minute before the guitar even begins to come in, and even that happens quietly. The drums and bass come in after another 30 seconds or so, and it’s turned into what sounds like the intro for any other song on the album. It’s not really important, the significance of this horn intro, I just like that it seems like a pre-introduction, almost a separate song in itself.

Come to think of it, all these columns end up in is “I just think they’re neat!”

Not to get entirely off-topic, but this reminds me of the line in Will’s piece on Kanye West’s ‘the Life of Pablo’: “But this is music journalism, and we must do better.” I can’t just say it’s a good song, even though it IS a good song. Teens of Denial is difficult for me to write about in this respect, because with earlier albums, there was a more personal edge to them. It’s not that Denial isn’t personal, again, I know it is and it’s definitely visible, there’s just the barrier between consumer and artist that can’t help but to exist in a much more obvious way with the post-signing albums. Twin Fantasy is easy for me to analyze because the emotions on it are more raw; Will was younger and his recording setup was shittier and his experiences were newer, scarier, and more… how to put this… poetic, in a sense. Teens of Denial is still poetic, I absolutely admit that it’s still blatantly Will’s, but I think there’s just a disconnect of the veteran listener not being used to professional-grade Car Seat Headrest material. Like, for example, if i heard 3‘s “Portrait of the Artist…” recorded in an actual studio with real equipment, it would unnerve me to the point of needing to take a moment. There’s something oddly comforting in knowing the vocals were recorded in some depressed kid’s dorm room. I think I just figured out why everyone’s bagging on this album.

I don’t agree, though. I really don’t. For me personally there’s not anything inherently better about the homemade music than the professional stuff. In fact, maybe it’s better that it’s harder to analyze. Perhaps the point is that you have to think about it more. The artist is evolving, so must the viewers. I can’t decide if this overrides the something of the first albums, but it’s definitely something to think about.

I’ve remembered who Will is and his policy on how he consumes art. Of course this is the point. I think I just figured it out.

Remember when I was trying to talk about “Cosmic Hero”?