BEST OF 2016

MAGNET’s #7 Album Of 2016: Car Seat Headrest’s “Teens Of Denial”


We don’t need another new Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate notwithstanding. But we sure can welcome a new Bob Pollard. Although Teens Of Denial is his first “real” album—created in a studio with an outside producer (Steve Fisk), conceived as a coherent group of tunes and intended for wide release—Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo is a song machine who’d recorded 12 albums (sometimes in his car’s backseat) that he posted on Bandcamp (some of those songs were assembled for 2015’s Teens Of Style). The leap in production values is akin to Guided By Voices’ on Do The Collapse, which the Cars’ Ric Ocasek produced: 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. Ocasek, however, is a villain in the CSH story: After some permissions confusion about the use of “Just What I Needed” in one song, Ocasek denied access, which caused Matador to destroy all the initial pressings on the eve of release. Toledo quickly recorded a new, equally superb version of “Not Just What I Needed,” so all’s good now. Pollard, thankfully, isn’t ready to pass his torch (or lighter or beer cooler). But Teens Of Denial proves that Toledo and Car Seat Headrest are heirs apparent.

—Steve Klinge