Nick Bollinger considers the eternal ingredients of teenage angst and distorted guitars in the music of Car Seat Headrest.
Some things, it seems, are eternal - distorted guitars and teenage angst among them. What is surprising is when someone can make those things seem, if not new, then at least as vital as they have ever been.
Car Seat Headrest are a four-piece band, currently based in Seattle, built around the songs of Leesburg, Virginia native Will Toledo. And from the opening track of Teens Of Denial you might think you were hearing one of any number of bands that came before. The power chords and slacker singing style took me straight back to the mid-80s prime of Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and the Replacements.
What Toledo shares with The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg in particular is an almost-crippling self-awareness, which he ultimately overcomes with wit. The opening song ‘Fill In The Blank’ starts out as an all-purpose moan to the universe. ‘I’m so sick of (fill in the blank)’ yawns Toledo. Yet before the end of the chorus, the song has turned on its own writer, and is telling him ‘you have no right to be depressed… stop your whining and try again.’
It’s that kind of self-mockery – combined with a classic pop-writer’s ear – that makes Toledo worth hearing, even if you’ve heard all the elements before. And as this album unfolds, his slacker pop-craft, and his timeless set of neuroses, reveal their own increasingly charming idiosyncrasies.
Songs featued: Fill In The Blank, Cosmic Hero, Vincent, Drugs With Friends, Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales, Unforgiving Girl.
Teens Of Denial is available on Matador Records.