Hi! So my pick for this week was a no brainer. I’ve been listening to Car Seat Headrest for the last couple weeks to prep for their show that was supposed to happen a few days ago, but their singer got COVID. That one hurt, but after 25 months of this shit I think one develops an immunity of sorts to COVID-related disappointment.
Given that I can’t gush over how great their show was, I will take a minute to gush about their 2016 release, Teens of Denial. First, I think it’s interesting and also kind of painful (for them, not me) that CHR (which was really just a very young Will Toledo at the time) had put out 12 full albums on Bandcamp before getting signed to Matador in 2015.
Teens of Denial isn’t easy to describe. It’s not just another indie rock album. It’s a much more dynamic and experimental indie rock album. There are a ton of different song structures, and sometimes that structural change happens within the same song. The Pixies-esque brash drums coupled with careful use of horns also help to add dimension to the album. I’m pretty sure they took these twists and turns to distract us from the fact that the album is 70 minutes long. But I didn’t even complain about that until I found out many listens later, so that’s not even a legitimate complaint.
It’s on this record where we start to hear Toledo’s vocals push out over the instruments, which is great when the lyrics are totally worth overpowering the instrumentation. And they are. Teens of Denial is so lyrically strong in its wit, intellect, and word play, that I found myself honing in on what Toledo was saying and less on what the band was playing (for at least the first few plays). For me, mediocre or even kinda shitty lyrics are not a deal breaker. It really depends what kind of band you are. BUT, if you’ve got some really smart, clever lyrics, I will probably fall in love with you.
One of my personal favorite lines is in the chorus for “Fill in the Blank” where Toledo laments “you have no right be depressed, you haven’t tried hard enough to like it.” And so much more where that came from. Toledo definitely has that Stephen Malkmus “lyrics that are funny to smart people” vibe going on. Although I don’t really think CHR sounds like Pavement as a band, I think that if you DO like bands like Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, early Modest Mouse, Cursive, etc. you will probably like this record.
Like I said, the album isn’t easy to describe. It would be a cop out to say this album sounds like insert 90s indie album here. Sure, every band is built on the backs of some existing foundation. It’s obvious that foundation for this album happens to be 90s indie rock. BUT, the songwriting that went into this album is easily some of the best I’ve heard in the last 10-15 years. Plus, Daniel said he really liked it. So there.
Thanks so much for reading!
If you want to check out Teens of Denial, I’ve provided a link to one of my favorite songs below: