Car Seat Headrest Sports A Decisive Shift In Song & Style On Making A Door Less Open (ALBUM REVIEW)

With the release of  Making A Door Less Open Car Seat Headrest subsequently announced a decisive shift in their overall sound. Without completely abandoning the staples that have turned a niche audience into an international following, they have still established a previously unheard aspect with this album, which is reminiscent of bandmates Wil Toledo and Mike Katz’s side project, 1 Trait Danger. Since signing with Matador Records in 2016, the band has released four albums, yet none have pushed the limits of their abilities as much as their newest release. 

Originally a solo project by  Toledo, the album is an ode to an ever-changing musician who’s challenging himself collaboratively and personally. Having self-released twelve albums online, his major label releases under Car Seat Headrest have been progressively more enticing. His use of various vocal styles and techniques and his always definitive lyrical style are both definitely great additions. Also when he uses drum samples throughout the album, he doesn’t waste an inch of space. 

“Weightlifters” sets off the album stating clearly that they’ve got a new sound; a wonderful combination of various instrumental contributions and spattered vocal parts, it’s an intriguing beginning for long time fans. “Can’t Cool Me Down” has the vocal hooks necessary to get it stuck in your head while containing both higher stretches to Toledo’s vocal range and a lower register delivery similar to Cake’s John McCrea in the verses. “Hollywood” echoes a comedic that is always an enjoyable change of pace throughout a cerebral record. “Hollywood makes me want to puke!” is the anthemic cry of a person who calls it as he sees it. 

“There Must Be More Blood” marks the true shift in musical style in a very punctuated way. It sets the exact scene as his earlier work but with more grandiose and reflective instrumentation. True to its name, “Hymn” is delivered as if he’s pleading to a congregation, or maybe even a psychosomatic jury. A vocal and organ duo and morphs into atonal bliss. The remix version has an early industrial music vibe to it and will be featured on the digital release as well as on CD. The song with the most additional versions, “Deadlines,” features three separate versions, all containing various levels of addition or subtraction as far as the production and vision go. “What’s With You Lately” is probably the most indicative of Car Seat Headrest’s previous releases, composed of a short jaunt returning to the acoustic roots that originally gained people’s attention.

Toledo has found his perfect collaborative partners, having recorded recently with the same lineup, as Making  A Door Less Open is a worthy addition to the creative evolution of Car Seat Headrest.

Photo by Carlos Cruz

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