By DUSTIN NILES
Layout & Design Editor
“Art gets what art wants and art gets what it deserves.” Rarely does a piece of art deserve a second chance. Rarely is an album more than a snapshot of time, xed within it. But Will Toledo, the author of the quote above, has rarely followed convention when it comes to his project Car Seat Headrest, and on Feb. 16 he released the album “Twin Fantasy” — for the second time.
Formed in 2010 as a solo project by Toledo, Car Seat Headrest has formed a small but devoted online following, mostly stemming from his strong presence and frequent releases on the small music sharing platform Bandcamp. In 2010 alone, Toledo released 4 albums and an EP under the Car Seat Headrest name, which is derived from when he used to record vocals in the backseat of his car.
The next year, at 19 years old, Toledo released “Twin Fantasy” on Bandcamp, which proved to be his most popular album up to that point. As time has passed, the album has maintained a cult following online (“Is this what a perfect sad rock album feels like?” user Medadef on Reddit said.) And with little notice, Toledo has released a complete re-recording of the original, under the label Matador Records.
“Twin Fantasy” is the album every millennial hates to love. Stu ed with metaphysical lyrics and ruminations on relationships, the album is everything our generation loves to say they’re better than, but isn’t. “My soul yearns for a fugitive from the laws of nature,” says Toledo on “Beach Life-in-Death.” It’s this deep, melodramatic nature that brings us back to sobbing in our bedrooms over “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt.
It’s not a sad album as much as it is a narrative considering the trials of growing up, falling in and out of love, and determining who you are and what “you” means.
The album plays with the concept that the album, and any album, is an experience shared by the artist and the listener. The artist and the listener bring to the experience versions of themselves that aren’t entirely truthful, they’re fantasies. And the experience they share listening to the album is a “twin fantasy.” The same thinking could be applied to a relationship, the subject of so much of the album. The depth of an album like this is remarkable, let alone for someone who was 19 when most of the material was written.
What makes the “Twin Fantasy” so interesting, is that it’s a complete re- recording. This same album, with minimal differences in content was released seven years ago. The difference is in quality. The original “Twin Fantasy” was recorded by Toledo at 19 on his laptop, without the resources and production quality that now comes with success and a record deal. Whether you think that’s an improvement or a detriment to the original is up to debate.
It’s so rare that an album is able to grow and change as time goes on with the artist. It’s quite common that an artist will look back at a former work and say
“I would do that differently now.” It’s beyond uncommon though, that an artist says “I would do that differently now, and I’m going to.” How does an artist reckon with recording an album that’s mostly already been determined, released, and received? How does one keep true the words written years ago, but add something new? What do you do with words that no longer ring true, or mean something different today than they did years ago?
“It was never a finished work,” Toledo said through a press release by Matador Records. “And it wasn’t until last year that I figured out how to finish it.”
The album is valuable in the fact that it exists. It’s an experiment, an event. It’s an answer to the question of “What would happen if…?” These days there is little that hasn’t been done, so it’s impressive when something comes along that creates innovation by literally doing something that has already been done.
Singles for this album included “Beach Life-in- Death,” released Dec. 13, 2017; “Nervous Young Inhumans,” released Jan. 9; “Cute Thing,” released Jan. 23; and “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)” released Feb. 6.
Highlights include “Famous Prophets (Stars),” a sprawling 16-minute epic that builds and breaks down as it winds down to a bare rubber band bass, and crawls up to a raging full band. “Twin Fantasy (Those Boys)” brings the album to a close by breaking the fourth wall and issuing a announcement in spoken word that our generation might want to take to heart.
“This is the end of the song, and it is just a song. It’s a version of me and you that can exist outside of everything else, and if it is just a fantasy, then anything can happen from here. The contract is up, the names have been changed. So pour one out, whoever you are. These are only lyrics now.”