by Aimee Lin
My first encounter with Car Seat Headrest was during a 4AM Skype conversation with a friend. At the time, Nervous Young Man was still their default Bandcamp album, and I felt like I discovered a treasure chest as I pored over all of their extensive discography. That month, Twin Fantasy was constantly on repeat, and two years later, the same can be said for Teens of Style. Despite its name, Teens of Style echoes a more mature aura, compared to previous albums, and is almost slightly reflective.
The album presents life’s strange dichotomies, pairing candid lyrics with upbeat songs. “Something Soon” shows the raw frustration that everyone struggles to cope with, “biting my clothes to keep from screaming / taking pills to keep from dreaming / I want to break something important / I want to kick my dad in the shins”. All of the songs perfectly flow into each other, belonging to the same narrative about how exhausting it can be to just exist.
In “Strangers”, Will Toledo sings “When I was a kid I feel in love with Michael Stipe / I took the lyrics out of context and thought ‘he must be speaking to me’” which is ironically relatable, as Teens of Style covers a range of relevant emotions and experiences. Although many of the songs have lyrics that would be considered dark, they are executed in a strange, perfect way that also makes the album quite fun to dance to.
This is perfectly encapsulated by “Oh! Starving”. “I used to enjoy losing money but now all I do is win / and now it’s far too easy to be satisfied with things / I used to enjoy being worried, but now everything is fine / I wish I could go back to those unhappier times”, is the charming chorus of the album’s last song. With a classic piano riff, jazzy swing beat, and the band’s harmonizing background vocals, this song completes the album, taking the listener on a journey somewhere within the realm of misery, uncertainty, joy, and fulfillment.