By Alex Pappademas. Will Toledo, the founder and principal songwriter of Car Seat Headrest, sat in his Seattle apartment, looking into his iPhone camera through the eyes of a modified gas mask. About ways of ameliorating some of the self-consciousness he still feels onstage. About taking his live shows in a more deliberate and theatrical direction, and encouraging his audience to have fun. He had not thought of the possibility that a global pandemic would turn protective masks into both a commonplace sight and a potent symbol of all-pervasive, amorphous dread.
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On his odd and ambitious new album, singer-songwriter Will Toledo dons a gas mask, adds electronic textures, and tries to separate himself from the indie fame of Car Seat Headrest. April 1 October 8 December 24
On his odd and ambitious new album, singer-songwriter Will Toledo dons a gas mask, adds electronic textures, and tries to separate himself from the indie fame of Car Seat Headrest. Feeling like shit is the emotional baseline in Car Seat Headrest songs. It has taken Toledo four years to release another collection of new material. But Car Seat Headrest has never operated with the level of showmanship displayed here. The whirring synths and electronics sound more like walk-on music for the mighty septet that held its own at Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl. If anything, Making a Door Less Open benefits from the inherent repetition of electronic music. That same sense of gleeful adventure goes missing when Making a Door Less Open hews closest to autobiography. But when they make up 20 percent of the tracklist of his only collection of new material in four years, they become a working definition of filler. The side-project only essential for being so profoundly inessential, yet more than Making a Door Less Open , it feels like a project in which Toledo followed his own artistic credo: commit yourself completely. Buy: Rough Trade.
Will Toledo in the custom-designed mask he had made for the promotion of Car Seat Headrest's new album. It was a tense moment, but for Toledo, 27, some level of anxiety is always part of the creative process. On Making a Door Less Open , the album that he and his bandmates were trying to finish that day last fall, Toledo pushes even further into strange, exciting new territory, with more ideas than ever competing for air. For Toledo, all of this represents the logical next step in a career that stretches back a full decade to his first DIY releases.