Will Toledo began self-releasing albums in 2010 at the age of 18. He amassed a sizable online following through the next 5 years as he self-recorded and released 8 albums, 2 EP’s, and 2 compilation albums under the name Car Seat Headrest. Eventually he drew the attention of Matador Records who urged him to rerecord his “greatest hits”–the best songs from all his DIY-albums–for what would become 2015’s Teens of Style. The album was a success and incited a flurry of anticipation for his sophomore release, this time with a full band and completely new material. Fans didn’t have long to wait, and they were not disappointed. Teens of Denial was released May 20th and is totally the most badass piece of music released so far this year.
It’s not just that the songs are awesome, although they are. Confident, anthemic and emotionally-charged, Teens of Denial combines the intellectual satisfaction of a well-made song with the passionate energy of raw human emotion, billowing in the wind for all the world to see. The album should come with free boxes of tissues (for the tears), aspirin (for the heartache) and throat lozenges (for when you can’t help but scream along too loudly and ultimately lose your voice, causing permanent vocal damage (if left untreated)).
No, the real magic is in the details. These are long songs full of build and release, anticipation and resolution, but between each emotional wave is a slightly different tone of voice, a new musical element not previously explored, a heartstring plucked I didn’t even know existed. “I didn’t want you to hear that shake in my voice / my pain is my own” he sings in “1937 State Park,” but that’s not quite true–every evocative shake in his voice is public, and as much a part of the music as the phat beat and driving guitars. His pain is for us all, and it is very real. Maybe try some out for yourself?
*Written by Ian Anderson and Atticus Swartwood