Teens of Denial (Car Seat Headrest) Reviewed

May 20, 2023

Car Seat Headrest is an American indie rock band that has amassed a respectable, albeit niche, following. It first started out as a solo project by lead Will Toledo before Ethan Ives and Andrew Katz joined in subsequent years. While their earlier albums had a rough, unrefined air about them, this problem – although some would say that it isn’t one – has since been addressed. Their 2016 album, Teens of Denial, is a testament to this. It features polished tracks with a clear sense of direction in what they wish to convey – both in tone and content.

 Car Seat Headrest performs "Bodys"

Getty Images/ NBCUniversal/ Andrew Lipovsky

Generally speaking, Teens of Denial focuses on the musings of Toledo and the realizations he has come to over the course of his young life. (Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem), for instance, sums up Toledo’s experience with alcohol and drugs. He talks about an almost alluring sense of chemical dependence in one’s teenage years and shows a sincere form of dissatisfaction with these “Teens of Style” of which he too was once a part of. This track is an excellent example of Toledo’s rougher-around-the-edges and yet deliberate brand of lyricism that appeals to an entire generation of youth.

Another edge Teens of Denial has over previous Car Seat Headrest projects is the fact that it is produced under Matador Records. Toledo now has a proper band setup backing his vocals up and this elevates his music to new heights. Andrew Katz’ drumming is worth appreciating in tracks like The Ballad of Costa Concordia and Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales for the sheer substance and character it adds to the meaningful lyrics. In fact, another major advantage Teens of Denial has over previous projects is how well the instruments complement Toledo’s lyrics, which makes the entire album an altogether worthwhile listening experience.