Originally released on BandCamp in 2011, Twin Fantasy is Car Seat Headrest’s eleventh studio album. The band is adored for their DIY beginnings, emotional lyrics, and indie rock roots. This year’s rerelease gives new life to this fan favorite, improving in its production quality and instrumentation, resulting in a refined version of the band’s best work. However, it is much more than just an improvement of what Will Toledo, creator of the band, began 7 years ago. Twin Fantasy (2018) creates an entirely new atmosphere of energy, despair, and excitement – basically it’s really freaking epic.
Long tracks are a trademark of Car Seat Headrest. The longest track, Famous Prophets (Stars), clocks in at 16:10 minutes. Although the songs are lengthly, Toledo & Co are able to keep you involved. One of their best tracks to date, Beach Life-in-Death does take time to speed up, but the momentum begins immediately. A train like consistent flow begins and carries the listener until an explosion of sound and emotion starts with Toledo declaring, “I don’t want to go insane”. The track’s energy never dies, but fluctuates. For example, Beach Life-in-Death can best be described as the group’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Like the Queen masterpiece, this track can be divided into three different acts. As the second part begins, the track dies down and Toledo sings of uncertainty in regard to his relationship, his significant other, and himself. The third act begins with a reawakening of the previous high excitement – Toledo screaming “Last night I dreamed he was trying to kill you / I woke up and I was trying to kill you”. Winding down this 13 minute long song, it is hard not to jump around as all the previous elements come together accompanied with background vocals of the group “ah”-ing and Toledo exclaiming, “The ocean washed over your grave” over and over.
Just like the force in Beach Life-in-Death, the track’s lyrical themes are found throughout the album. Arguably the saddest on the album, Sober to Death is a soft track, calmer compared to Beach Life-in-Death. Given the lighter instrumentals, it is easier to hear Toledo’s grief of a failing relationship. Lyrics like, “You know that good lives make bad stories, you can text me / When punching mattresses gets old” and “We were wrecks before we crashed into each other” are prime examples of Toledo’s masterful lyric writing. Nervous Young Inhumans, a standout pop single, is about Toledo’s struggle to figure out himself. This theme of self discovery is also a trademark of the band’s discography. At the end of Nervous Young Inhumans, Toledo tells himself “I can lie on my back and affect the lives of those I love without moving a finger” but also questions who is he, “You’ve just been singing about girls? / What do you know about girls? F***”.
While I rave of the lyrics, the album’s weakest point is also their strongest. To me, the tracks become rambly after awhile. The ramble works well in a handful of tracks, but also makes others (Famous Prophets (Stars)) a bit too much. However, in tracks like Bodys, a rambly Toledo creates magic.
This slightly shorter track – 6 minutes long – never gives the listener a reason to stop dancing. My favorite on the album, this song gives off the vibe of a Strokes song, with its catchy guitar and witty writing that occasionally break the fourth wall. Again, the theme of self discovery is apparent with lines like “There’s no devil on one shoulder and angel on the other / They’re just two normal people”. However, where the track shines is during the chorus. Words cannot do the song justice, do yourself a favor and just give it a listen.
Car Seat Headrest does little wrong on their newest album. Patience is rewarded here and rewarded well with Toledo’s writing and epic tracks. Car Seat Headrest is a weirdly relatable band that addresses all the issues of a typical young adult while also making something much bigger. They’re a band that sings of loneliness, but makes the listener feel surrounded by others. Maybe it’s due to their humble beginnings, but Car Seat Headrest never fails to make their audience feel like their part of something bigger. The rerelease is well worth a listen – check it out below!