The award for 'best album pretty much anyone could have made' goes to Car Seat Headrest this year. Teens of Denial isn’t a technically brilliant album, it doesn’t have solos Hendrix would struggle with and the songs, while almost experimental, never quite delve from Car Seat Headrest’s song formula.
Indie Rock hasn’t been the best genre for years now, we’ve had good albums from it, but we’ve not had a great album from the genre for years. Car Seat Headrest breaks this phenomenon and with a Pavement-esque album they have made my favourite album of 2016.
Will Toledo, the vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter behind Car Seat Headrest has released 11 albums, all of which were shyly recorded in lo-fi conditions with a basic formula, he released those albums online and for years he never got anything in the way of critical attention.
The artwork for the album, which had to be recalled to due a publishing disagreement with New Wave band The Cars.
However his two most recent albums Teens of Style and Teens of Denial broke that trend and he has now performed internationally and on very public forums, such as the Jimmy Fallon show.
The reason for this odd, for a guitar band, success is simply that Teens of Denial is a nostalgic and fun album, which is as infectious as it is pretentious.
Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales is the anthem of the band, and probably the anthem of 2016 for many wayward alternative middle class young adults. The song is the most infectious noise pop song in years, it’s chorus is odd, yet catchy, and the whole song is like a mini-symphony upon which Car Seat Headrest lay out their odd ambitions.
The rest of the songs really push the standard up too, songs like Vincent, Fill in the Blank, Destroyed By Hippie Powers, Drugs With His Friends, Unforgiving Girl and Cosmic Girl are all great enough that they could have been the best indie rock songs of 2016 if it wasn’t for Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales.
The 24 ear old performing at his NPR Tiny Desk concert.
The only song on the album I have non-positive feelings towards is The Ballad of Costa Concordia, which changes the pace of the album and takes away from the infectious melodies of the rest of the album.
The odds of Car Seat Headrest becoming Indie Icons are pretty good, they have rabid fans, they have a slacker-ish sound and they make pop songs hidden behind rock, just like all great Indie artists do.
Teens of Denial is, with small doubt, my personal album of the year, it's an oddly fresh album for such a stagnant genre, but most importantly its just a fun listen. It's production is laissez-faire, it's instrumentation sounds lazy, so it really shouldn't be a great album, but it is.