Adolescence is a seemingly endless spiral of internal questions, contradictions and confusions – and to be further grappling with queer identity and first love at the same time only complicates things further. That's why it's so brilliant that Beach Life-In-Death, the second track on Car Seat Headrest's new album Twin Fantasy, is 13 minutes long.
It's a cathartic journey that switches gears a number of times, dropping certain lyrical threads only to pick them up later. Creator, singer and frontman Will Toledo starts the song stuck in a meandering summer boredom; he drunkenly comes out to his friends and immediately pretends he didn't, then tries to negotiate his relationship ("It's been a year since we first met/I don't know if we're boyfriends yet") – before closing out the song by singing of early death in a tone that's both melodramatic and serious. The whole narrative is driven by rich indie-rock production that articulates the more wordless parts of Toledo's inner turmoil.
Twin Fantasy is a re-imagining of Toledo's 2011 lo-fi album of the same name, with this version lifting it to new heights. The clean production lends the songs an accessible pop sheen, and the concept-album structure, following one relationship from start to finish, takes time to draw listeners through both the heady, euphoric moments of love and the painful wounds of heartbreak. Anyone who remembers the struggle of trying to figure out exactly who you are and what you want from life will find transcendence in Toledo's writing.
As good as he is at creating abstractions of feelings, Toledo also shines with bursts of beautifully simple sentiments; Stop Smoking (We Love You) captures a comically obvious empathy in its self-explanatory title, only expanding with; "we don't want you to die". Later, on the punky Cute Thing, Toledo tries to express his sexual desire for a lover in a number of ways, before landing on the unpretentious statement; "I would sleep naked/next to you".
The themes of duality on Twin Fantasy resemble those on Frank Ocean's Blonde, and within that identity crisis Toledo finds infinite possibilities for his sense of self. That lends Twin Fantasy a overarching sense of hope; even at his deepest moments of despair, Toledo is always looking upwards.
Car Seat Headrest, Twin Fantasy
Car Seat Headrest
A rich indie-rock exploration of queer love and identity