Songs We Love: Car Seat Headrest, 'Something Soon'

Car Seat Headrest. (Courtesy of the artist)
Car Seat Headrest. (Courtesy of the artist)

The bedroom is supposed to be the one place of sanctuary for a songwriter, "a world," Brian Wilson once sang, "where I can go and tell my secrets to." It's where the wildest, most vulnerable ideas commune with Tascam 4-tracks and laptops. But when Virginia native Will Toledo first started recording music at the tender age of 17, those four walls weren't enough. In search of a place to sing loud and out of tune, Toledo went to the family car for privacy, which is where Car Seat Headrest was born.

Eleven self-released Bandcamp albums later, Toledo (now 22) has long moved out of the car and to Seattle — but that wild, vulnerable drive remains. You can hear the process of self-discovery in every track, as he tries his hand at raucous minute-long pop songs a la Guided By Voices, funky Beck-like electro-folk, or (lately) proggy 14-minute synth-pop epics. If it's all a bit daunting, his upcoming album, Teens of Style, reworks material from Car Seat Headrest's first three years with a full band — with the all-new Teens of Denial to follow in 2016. Jason Reid directs this video for "Something Soon," as the band generally wreaks havoc in an abandoned house and escalates into some kind of occult burning ritual as Toledo screams, "Let's burn this house down."

In its original form, the song was a messy, organ-driven warbler that felt like a radio transmission crackling its way through space. With a full band, "Something Soon" becomes a blown-out, four-on-the-floor power-pop song that races with an anxious heart waiting to explode. Toledo sings nonchalantly, "I want to sing this song like I'm dying," over crisp drumming and what actually sounds like a Rhodes instead of a GarageBand keyboard. The chorus pounds with a desperate euphoria, like Beach Boys harmonies rammed through Julian Casablancas' distortion mic, crying out, "Heavy boots on my throat I need / I need something soon." The studio is a major step up for Toledo, and may likely prove a sonic playground. But in order to pulse that youthful exuberance and restlessness into "Something Soon," Toledo needed to cut his teeth on anything and everything.

Teens Of Style is out on Oct. 30 on Matador.

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Teens of Style reworks material from Car Seat Headrest's first three years of making music.

Teens of Style reworks material from Car Seat Headrest's first three years of making music.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.