Every now and again, you stumble across an artist who fills a void you didn’t know was inside of you. In a matter of hours, you begin to wonder how you got by without the music, why you didn’t know this cavity existed, and how many previous moments of your life could have improved had this music been busy soundtracking it. Today, by the grace of the music gods above us, we’ve found an artist who reminds us why that feeling is so inexplicably magical.
Car Seat Headrest is the moniker of Will Toledo, a 22-year-old student who recently signed to Matador Records. In the past five years, he’s thrown 11 albums up on bandcamp — a number that would impress even if each LP wasn’t imbued with sneaky, confessional songwriting that hits with a concerned slap. Toledo touches on Velasquez paintings, binge-watching reality TV, and the book of Job with relative ease in his lyrics. What pushes his songs into untouchable terrain, though, is the way those words interact with the music.
“Something Soon” explodes with the musical heights of icons before him. Toledo embraces the vocal distortion of The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas (complete with his trademark forward lean, as seen in the song’s music video) and pairs it with sweet, mocking, sliding harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys. As drums steady his shaking, Toledo whirs through a field of fuzzy guitar and explosive crescendos. He sought refuge in the comfort of his car when recording, pushing his vocals to extremes on a quiet weekday afternoon in the parking lot of a church since he was afraid his vocals would be overheard through his bedroom walls at home. That inner struggle to vocalize rebuttle, restraint, and anxiety comes rushing through his voice, no matter how articulately he phrases it. By the time the song reaches its conclusion–utilizing audio samples from his first concert back in eighth grade–Car Seat Headrest breaks free of its mental restraints, heaving with control, a slight smile on its face.
Check it out above. If you like what you hear, head to Car Seat Headrest’s website to pre-order a copy of Teens of Style before it drops October 30 via Matador Records.