The prodigious Will Toledo returns with the thirteenth record he has released as Car Seat Headrest. What’s different this time out is that at the grand old age of 23, Toledo has opted to enter a ‘proper’ studio and record with a full band and designate a producer. In the process, he seeks to make the jump from scuzzy, muffled sketches of songs to a more musically grandiose, but detailed and confessional lyrical style, often deftly sketching the mundanity and sense of futility inherent for many in day to day life.
‘Fill In The Blank’ calls to mind The Replacements with stomping drums front and centre, driving Toledo through his first in a series of cathartic confessionals. The likes of ‘Vincent’ and ‘(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)‘ plough a more expansive furrow, from small beginnings to clattering denouements as the newly acquired backing band show their capacity for making a real racket. Copyright issues mean that ‘Just What I Wanted/Not Just What I Needed’ features a coda mashed with ‘Something Soon’ from last year’s Matador debut Teens of Style rather than the originally planned ‘Just What I Needed’ – regrettably causing a delay in the physical release of this LP.
Teens of Denial is at once literate, direct, noisy and intimate – if slightly overlong, with a reduction in quality control in the latter half of the record. At its best, there’s a degree more space to allow arrangements to breathe where once they would have drowned under layers of unnecessary fuzz. Flagged in advance as a move to ‘something approaching classic rock grandeur’ and reminiscent of the jump Cloud Nothings made once Dylan Baldi stepped up from bedroom recording across Attack On Memory and Here And Nowhere Else, there’s a giddy enjoyment to be derived from observing Car Seat Headrest as massive potential begins to be realised.