- Personnel: Will Toledo (vocals, guitar, piano, organ, Mellotron); Ethan Ives (vocals, guitar); Andrew Katz (vocals, Mellotron, drums, percussion); Jon Maus (trumpet).
- Recording information: Soundhouse and Avast! Studios.
- Photographer: Gordon S. Fisk.
- If you cranked out 11 homemade albums in just four years, you'd probably want to go big once you had the means to make a for-real long-player for a noted indie label. And though 2016's Teens of Denial isn't Car Seat Headrest's first album for Matador Records, this is the first one founder, frontman, and songwriter Will Toledo built from the ground up for the label. Arriving in 2015, Teens of Style was a re-recorded "best-of" that revisited Toledo's earlier material, but Teens of Denial is a grand-scale 70-minute song cycle about a kid named Joe who is wrestling with the traditional dilemmas of late adolescence and early adulthood. Unlike the lion's share of Toledo's work, Teens of Denial was recorded in a professional studio with a real producer (Steve Fisk) and a band (with Ethan Ives on bass and Andrew Katz on drums). Teens of Denial doesn't sound especially slick (quite the opposite), but it feels big and ambitious; Toledo has a story to tell, and if his vocals are often laconic, they fit the material well, as he re-creates the casual eloquence of a high schooler's mumble and shrug. Teens of Denial is that rarity, an album about teenage life that sounds like it could have been created by a 17-year-old, though few would have the intelligence and discipline to get their ideas on tape with this level of skill. Toledo understands that the circumstances of Joe's life might sometimes seem trivial at first glance, but the emotions behind them, and the lessons doled out and learned, are not. There's a real and powerful wit in these songs, but that doesn't mean Toledo doesn't take Joe's travails seriously, and over the course of these 12 songs, he builds an epic out of the simplest materials. Rock history teaches us you can't will a masterpiece into existence, but with Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Denial, Will Toledo has created something like a novel after previously offering us short stories, and it's a piece of rough-hewn brilliance. ~ Mark Deming
Rolling Stone - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Toledo has a band now, and access to proper studios, so the sound is fuller and crisper. But the main difference is his voice, no longer muffled in effects but spitting out Moleskines-worth of pain, disgust, anger, confusion, and music-geek inside jokes with clarity and presence."
Spin - "[I]t's fairly safe to say that the 12-track, 70-minute DENIAL is one of the most confident-sounding records ever made about depression, alcoholism, and self-defeat"
Magnet - "These songs rock with a fuzzy-yet-clear intensity; they retain their DIY spirit, but the focus is sharper, as are the hooks, even when songs stretch past the seven-minute mark."
Mojo (Publisher) - Ranked #24 in Mojo's 'The 50 Best Albums Of 2016' -- "[T]he songs' invention, depth and anthemic guitars suggest his story will be evolving and, yes, immense."
NME (Magazine) - "Toledo's talent for writing melancholic slacker rock stands out immediately on boozy teen anthem `Destroyed By Hippie Powers'..."
Paste (magazine) - "Will Toledo is the creative force behind this Bandcamp success story....His voice isn't shrouded by reverb and distortion, and his songwriting is crisp as can be."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[F]rontman Will Toledo reaffirms that he is ahead of the pack as an imaginative singer-songwriter, capable of crafting dynamic indie rock."