Photography: Kevin Barrett

Car Seat Headrest

Harvest Sun @ Invisible Wind Factory 19/5/18

Amid the confusing, gratuitous joviality that comes with a Royal wedding and the blinding optimism that breeds with the transition that into warmer seasons, there’s always room for self-deprecation and anxious cuts of heartache, desire and mental see-sawing. The vehicle for this, tonight, is Will Toledo’s band CAR SEAT HEADREST, as they arrive at the Invisible Wind Factory for the Liverpool leg of their European tour. The tour follows a re-recording of Twin Fantasy, an album originally released seven years ago, in what looked like a confusing creative choice after the critical triumph of 2016’s Teens Of Denial. This time round, Twin Fantasy boasts a well-rounded, refined production in contrast to the lo-fi bedroom recording of the original. However, it still carries the authenticity and rawness that’s evoked in the joys and pains of teenage angst.

The room is packed tonight with new and old fans of Toledo’s music and the front is a centrifuge of energy, as the band deliver the sharp, decisive sound of one of the most up-beat tracks from Twin Fantasy, Body’s, which has Toldeo, arched and running on the spot, creating an infectious aura of self-release. (Joe Gets Kicked Out Of School For Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t A Problem) gifts the crowd with their first taste of anthemic catharsis; the song is also an excellent showcase of Toldeo’s songwriting ability, incorporating an earnest accessibility with an off-hand, wry sense of humour.

CAR SEAT HEADREST Image 2

The set takes a slight inhale as the band embark on a cover of Frank Ocean’s White Ferrari, it makes for a pleasant transition in to the melancholic Twin Fantasy (Those Boys), which builds to a soothing crescendo, although its somewhat ignored and muffled by the crowd’s mumbled chatter.

The performance is punctuated by Toldeo and the band’s sharp wit and freedom on stage; they’re able to carry the emotion of the songs in a way that encourages a togetherness and a carefree emancipation around the room. The encore features the haunting, yet melodic and touching Sober To Death, which again touches on the themes of mental health, loneliness and relationships, giving the crowd the last opportunity for an impassioned singalong. The set concludes with the 13-minute-long Beach Life-In-Death, which could be deemed self-indulgent, but at this point I have to admit my surprise at their ability to lift a crowd and keep them there with songs laden with such dark subjects. But this is to underestimate the cleverness of Toldeo’s song writing and the ability of the band to crash through the songs, with vigour and angst, while being able to produce a refined sound; a fine example of what a lot of modern-day rock bands are missing.

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