By Chris Ricci
In 2016, Will Toledo’s indie outfit Car Seat Headrest rocketed into the mainstream with “Teens of Denial,” his first album for Matador that had all original songs. What does that mean? Well, before this release, Car Seat Headrest pumped out a whopping eleven albums in four years, all released independently, and the release prior to “Teens of Denial” (“Teens of Style”) served as a compilation of his favorite self-released tracks. This year, the group decided to revisit their sixth album “Twin Fantasy (Mirror To Mirror)” and re-record it, and this is one of those rare instances where a remake transcends the original.
Originally recorded when he was a teenager, Will has always talked about revisiting this album because, according to the band, it was never finished. Yes, the original is full of teenage heartbreak and lamentation with obtuse lyrics, and the condensed laptop production does feel a bit blistering at times, but that is also its most endearing feature. It captures an essence of a time and a feeling that, realistically, only your teenage self could really hone in on (try not to cringe too hard thinking about the past, okay?), but for Will, this album more-or-less haunted him, and he knew one day he’d get the vision he had out there in the open.
“Twin Fantasy (Face To Face)” not only pays tribute to the original feel of the album, but it serves as an incredible connection between past and present sound that would make even the most titanic of artists jealous. The tracklisting runs the same number-wise, but the tracks run a bit longer, as Will and company grind and jam through the past and get caught-up in the elements. From out the gate, the originally 10 minutes blistering “Beach Life-In-Death” gets upped by three minutes, and the command the band has is remarkable. Subtle changes are sprinkled here and there through the album, but the impact remains the same. Moreso, even, as the now 27-year-old Toledo takes a trip back in time and comes back triumphantly. Of note, the original album was 100% him. Instrumentation, production, recording, the works were all him. Handing the reins off to his band must have seemed daunting at first, but doing so freed him up to grow and explore himself on this album, and that might be it’s most impressive bit. To quote Will Toledo, “the most vital difference between the old and the new: he no longer sees his own story as a tragedy.” On the surface, the idea of reimagining an older album seems like a cheap cash-grab that feeds off of nostalgia and a lack of innovation. With “Twin Fantasy (Face To Face),” the mold is broken and an old album is once again new. A commanding visit to the past as a means to march toward the future is just what Car Seat Headrest needed, and in doing so, the group have set the standard when it comes to exploring a band exploring their own history. Twin Fantasy (Face To Face) is available through Matador Records and is available on all streaming platforms. And, if you’re curious, be sure to check out the original release here And, for a good laugh, check out Matador Records’ flowchart here!
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