New vs. Old: Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy

By Tanner Bidish, Visual Media Director

In 2011, Will Toledo put out Twin Fantasy, the record that would propel Car Seat Headrest into Bandcamp iconography. Riding off that success and the hype of the other release in less than a decade, Toledo has been able to drop the lo-fi stylings for a full studio sound. Now he’s gone back to his original brain-child to give it a sonic makeover, and honestly, it sounds pretty good.

The production of Teens of Denial translates perfectly on the revamped Twin Fantasy. Every track sounds fuller. There was a moment of fear going in for the first listen–that the immaturity of the narrative would only sound great with the cracks and reverb of shit recording. As soon as the guitars come in on “My Boy”, there’s a realization that lo-fi aesthetics weren’t the best part about the storytelling in the album. The energy isn’t lost; guitars still rage and screech through “Beach Life-in-Death”, but it’s punchier as well as the bass being heavier for a greater presence. Everything sounds clearer now, more distinct and digestible.

That’s not to say the album is just a re-recording of a college project. There are significant changes, mainly in the back half of the LP. On “Cute Thing”, the rock idols Toledo wants to channel have transcended from Dan Bejar and John Entwistle to Frank Ocean and James Brown, respectively. “Famous Prophets” has been expanded with additional five minutes of instrumentals. The change evokes Toledo as the songwriter he is now and gently lays Toledo of 2011 to rest. It sounds great.

However, not every change is worth celebrating. The original “Nervous Young Inhumans” has a quirky spoken section where Will breaks down the reference he tried to make earlier in the song. He ends it by saying, “This is the part of the song where I start to regret writing it,” and it is the most iconic, quotable and sadly enjoyable moment of the album. The section is swapped for a long-mumbled monologue. It’s a disappointing addition that drags down the end of one of the most danceable tracks.

The only other trouble facing 2018’s Twin Fantasy is it doesn’t really make sense. A lot has changed in seven years, but it’s not like the original was old or dated in any way. It’s not that confusing why this record got redone–it’s a Bandcamp staple, a true exemplar of lo-fi rock. The real question is, why now?

There’s a glimpse of an answer with the lyrical change at the end of the title track. In the original, Will breaks the fourth wall again and talks about dissociating himself from his art and the romance he’s constructed around. The fresh Twin Fantasy now ends with something more hopefully; a spoken reminder that this is only a song on an album. The fantasy is contained and aware of itself as it invites you to listen again. The album was done over again because its author was ready to go back.

There’s a hypothetical question often asked about giving your past self-advice. Toledo seems to have tapped into that hypothetical by taking his past self’s work and making it true to himself now. The relationship between the two albums feels how that advice would sound, like a message of resilience. The turmoil of the original Twin Fantasy hasn’t necessarily been stripped away, but it’s been honed into a fully realized work. 

Listen to the New Twin Fantasy here:

Listen to the Old Twin Fantasy here:

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