Review: Car Seat Headrest — Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 at 7:00 PM
Review: Car Seat Headrest — Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) by Dakota Palmer

★★★★☆

Nearly seven years after the release of “Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror),” indie rock band Car Seat Headrest released their eleventh studio album, “Twin Fantasy (Face to Face).” Members Will Toledo, Ethan Ives, Andrew Katz and Seth Dalby completely re-recorded “Mirror to Mirror” and released it through Matador Records on Feb. 16.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, lead singer Toledo said the 2011 album was “never a finished work.” He also said, “It wasn’t until last year that I figured out how to finish it.”

Whereas the first album has a very distorted, disorienting, blurry feel to it, the remastered version clears the fog and lets the album really shine. At the time “Mirror to Mirror” was released, there was a boyish charm and almost immature charisma to it that made the LP stand apart from other indie releases at the time. While the first album still remains a very important one, the remastered version showcases the growth of the band musically and personally.

In 2011, Toledo completely recorded the first album on his own, playing each instrument in addition to being the only vocalist. It was recorded using a laptop microphone, explaining a lot of the distortion and poor sound quality.

The 2018 remastered album features a full band, already making a huge difference in the sound quality and general feeling of the record. Most tracks on “Face to Face” are a bit longer, such as “Beach Life-In-Death,” which has a length of 13:19 (2011 length: 12:10); “Nervous Young Inhumans,” which has a length of 5:25 (2011 length: 4:14)” and “Famous Prophets (Stars),” which has a length of 16:10 (2011 length: 10:20).

These extra-lengthy songs allow for extended outros that fit and conclude each song fairly well. For example, “Nervous Young Inhumans (2011)” had an odd intro that talked about Mary Shelley and Frankenstein and the term “galvanistic.” The lyrics are nearly indecipherable with the heavy distortion, but once understood they leave the listener — confused, for the most part.

“Nervous Young Inhumans (2018)” has a completely different spoken outro that begins a self-reflecting and religion-questioning paragraph, “I’m a good person. I’m a powerful person. I don’t believe in evil. I think that evil is an idea created by others to avoid dealing with their own nature. Good and evil have nothing to do with it.”

This outro is by far my favorite of the album. It makes the listener sit and think about their own lives, their own definitions of good and evil. This contemplative track and changed outro is a staple of the album.

“Bodys” is reminiscent of a Phoenix song, with its fast-paced guitar and drums paired with Toledo’s slower vocals. His voice is far from angelic, but it bears a unique sound that marries both deep and high pitches. Another somewhat-contemplative song, the song contains the lyrics, “There’s no devil on one shoulder and angel on the other / They’re just two normal people.”

These lyrics are pretty substantive, as Toledo is saying that there’s no need to equate morals to an angel and a devil. With that thought process, each decision is either good or bad with no room for error. Life is not that simple, and it’s okay to not have each decision be black or white.

The final song, “Twin Fantasy (Those Boys)” is also a bit different from its 2011 counterpart. In the 2011 version, Toledo pauses in the middle of the song and says, “This is the part of the song where Will gives up / He dissociates himself from his own romance until it becomes just a fantasy...He has rejoined society / Come, dear children, call no more / He only has lyrics now.”

By providing us with a narrative of Toledo falling into some odd dissociative state, we’re merely observers of his journey of self-discovery.

The 2018 song has a different break in the song with the spoken words, “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 it just a fantasy, then anything can happen from here.” In a way, it seems as though Now, by using the words “me” and “you,” the listener is brought along on the self-discovery journey and is able to reflect on their experiences now.

The song ends with, “These are only lyrics now,” possibly indicative of the fact that Toledo feels complete now that the album was redone. While he 2011 album was a narrative of his life and experiences, now they are simply memories and he can close the book on that chapter of his life.

Standout Tracks: “Nervous Young Inhumans,” “Bodys” and  “Famous Prophets (Stars)”

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Dakota Palmer is the executive editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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