Will Toledo, frontman of Car Seat Headrest, is surely one of the most prodigiously busy artists in music. While slowing down from his rate of releasing more than two albums a year, the American artist continually pumps out new music and reinvents his sound with every release.
Returning in 2020 with Making a Door Less Open, the follow up to the re-release of Twin Fantasy and his 2016 break out Teens of Denial, Car Seat Headrest have ventured a little from their traditional indie rock path to a more synth, almost at times hip-hop driven sound. Co-producing with friend and drummer Andrew Katz under the pseudonym 1 Trait Danger, Making a Door Less Open is brilliant at times, whilst completely dishevelled at other times.
I’ve seen Car Seat Headrest live twice before. Once at Laneway Festival for all of one song, and once at the short lived Sydney City Limits. To this day, that SCL set will go down as one of the best, albeit entirely weird, live sets I’ve seen. You could sense Toledo’s onstage persona was a little obtuse, while his music was equally great and confusing. Making a Door Less Open is exactly the same.
Opening track “Weightlifters” opens with what could easily be the hum of a mosquito buzzing past your ear as you try to fall asleep on a hot summer’s night. It’s just as endearing and annoying, but by the time the vocals and drums kick in, you’ve become immune to its sound and you fully embrace the nature of what Car Seat Headrest will deliver for the rest of the album.
Lead single “Can’t Cool Me Down” is a little off beat through its run, with a little-too-close-for-it-to-not-to-be MGMT inspired keyboard progression throughout its middle stages. With this in mind, its soaring middle verses and bridge are pretty spot on. Traditional Toledo returns on “Hollywood” as the guitars return with a relentless riff. The most wholesome and probably most melodic moment of the album comes in the form of “Martin”. It’s 3:30 of pure joy, with a horn solo tying it all together in its closing stages.
Admittedly, there are some other parts of MADLO that aren’t as great. “Hymn” is painful to listen to. It’s definitely the least strong song on the album. While “Hymn” isn’t all that positive, the mood doesn’t stay this way for long, as the closing two minutes of “Life Worth Missing” is euphoric and entirely uplifting.
While not his strongest release, Making a Door Less Open is enjoyable enough to listen to in its entirety. It’s not an album of singles, so be sure to give it a listen in its entirety. It’s bizarre at times, while at other times pretty bloody good.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Making a Door Less Open is out now.