Have you ever felt insecure, unsure, anxious, lost, sad, human? If so, Teens of Denial is a must listen. Car Seat Headrest front-man and and creative mastermind Will Toledo delivers an impressive range of emotions and ideas regarding the human experience on his first studio record for Matador and his thirteenth overall.
Covering topics from finding discomfort in conventional aspects of youth culture ("Joe Gets Kicked Out Of School...") and guarding one's insecurities ("1937 State Park") to finally finding someone who gives you hope despite all of the struggles that life entails ("Unforgiving Girl..."), Teens of Denial features clever and empathetic lyricism paired with creative songwriting that gives you plenty to look forward to on every track. Some of the easily identifiable examples of the musical brilliance that we have come to expect from CSH include the curious parallels made between post-party melancholia and the abuse of sea life in "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales" and the heart-wrenching confessional that is "The Ballad of Costa Concordia". However, some of the best moments on the album are the subtleties that contribute to the larger vision: the flavorful horns in "Vincent", the driving cowbell in "Destroyed By Hippie Powers", and the opening line of the record which perfectly establishes the tone and direction of the entire work.
The lyrics and the chords may not go exactly where the ear expects them to, but this is what makes Denial not only another great Car Seat Headrest album, but a great album in and of itself. This is the kind of music that novice and veteran songwriters will be looking to for years to come and, even though the year is not yet half over, we can easily see this being one of our favorite records of 2016. But if by chance this album isn't your style, well, in the words of Toledo, "you haven't tried hard enough to like it."