Personnel: Degnan Smith (vocals); Andrew Katz (drums).
Illustrator: Max Wedner.
Car Seat Headrest began as an outlet for Will Toledo's songs of youthful joy and frustration, often recorded in the back seat of the family car, hence the band name. After 11 albums' worth of material was released on Bandcamp over a four-year span, Matador Records caught wind of Toledo and signed him up. A pretty savvy move on their part because his songs capture the best aspects of many of the band's they've had on their roster at one point or another. The soaring choruses and homemade sound of Guided by Voices, the offhanded lyrical bent and laconic delivery of Pavement, the bouncing power pop of New Pornographers, the guitar fireworks of Yo La Tengo, the naked honesty of Liz Phair, and the blown-out recording style of Times New Viking are all accounted for, yet Toledo puts it all together in his own idiosyncratic, impressive way. Teens of Style is made up of reworkings of songs from his many albums, taking his favorites and cleaning them up just a bit with the help of drummer Andrew Katz and bassist Jacob Bloom. With tracks that launch themselves out of the speakers like lo-fi anthems ("The Drum," "Sunburned Shirts"), unspool slowly as the guitars clang and hiss ("Times to Die," "Strangers"), or feed the insatiable needs of power pop fanatics who aren't afraid to get a little dirty (the almost impossibly majestic "Something Soon"), the album plays like a greatest-hits collection of a very talented kid and serves as a taste of greatness to come. The passion Toledo injects into the lyrics and vocals isn't likely to fade, his melodic skills are so strong it's hard to imagine that he'll ever run out of steam, and even if his future records don't have the gritty, cheap-as-dirt feel that this record does, it's difficult to see Toledo ever making records that are spotless and lifeless. He has the kind of writing skills and vision that you want to latch onto tightly and follow wherever they might lead. By the end of the album, as the waltzing piano ballad "Oh! Starving" fades, it's impossible not to be knocked out by what has come before and be super stoked for what might come next. ~ Tim Sendra