2016, Music

Teens of Denial (2016) by Car Seat Headrest

I have literally never heard of this band. And now, somehow, I’m listening to their 11th album. There is reason, but it’s not really important. For me the struggle is knowing literally nothing about this band and their career to date.

I have listened to a lot of indie rock in my life, and a fair amount of garage rock and garage rock revival. I think I have a pretty good idea of what good indie rock sounds like. This, to me, sounds like good indie rock.

The songs are reasonably strong and catchy. I don’t know how they compare to other records by this band – there are so many and I know none of them – but going by RYM ratings, it does seem like this is considered their best album to date, so I suspect that means this is better than representative. Sometimes they veer off into unexpected places, which is cool.

I think the real appeal for a lot of people is the lyrics, which apparently form some kind of song cycle. If that’s true (and I can’t say I have listened enough or attentively enough to confirm that), then I guess this is on the more literate side of indie rock. And, frank, I should expect nothing less at this point. This genre is old and pretty tired so if you want to say something new within it, you really should try to have some kind of literary ambition, right?

The performances are good. They strike that classic indie rock balance of being a little too rough to be mistaken for something pre-punk but not too rough to scare too many people from listening to it. And Toledo’s voice has that casualness to it but he is obviously singing with emotion. And there are some touches here and there (like the horns on four tracks) that expand the traditional indie rock palette.

Though the mix is a little murky for my tastes – I don’t think a cleaner mix would hurt the rockiness of this record – I do appreciate that Toledo’s voice is in the mix instead of on top of it. It makes the whole thing sound a little more “indie.”

This is a pretty great indie rock record. I’m not sure it will cause me to see out their other records, if only because I’ve heard so many of these and because this appears like it may be the best one. But it’s pretty good.


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