The most diverse range of styles we’ve ever received in one album from the band
Matty Pywell
18:05 27th April 2020

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Making A Door Less Open is the fifteenth album from Car Seat Headrest in ten years, with Will Toledo handing production of the record over to One Trait Danger - the satirical side project between himself and drummer Andrew Katz. The result is the most diverse range of styles we’ve ever received in one album from the band.

Promising that each song would have its own “special energy”, we get a range of influences from electronic and EDM to pop. The influence of the One Trait Danger project is felt most clearly on electronic tracks such as ‘Can’t Cool Me Down’, the synthetic elements present a warped perspective from a character at odds with their extreme mental state. The electric, almost arcade-like synth makes it feel like you’re trapped in a computer program.

Pop music has never felt like too much of a stretch as a natural progression for Car Seat Headrest. The dance rock of ‘Bodys’ or the anthemic qualities within ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ are now clear signifiers of the band’s future endeavours. There is a theme of reflection throughout, concerning the choices we make for better or worse and our inner desires, something that has been covered previously by the band to differing degrees.

Each of Car Seat Headrest’s albums have been described in previous interviews as “emotional weather patterns” for Will, in that they capture specific sections of his life. One of the most successful elements of Car Seat Headrest’s writing is the ability to flip the perspective on mundane aspects of life into weird and intriguing narratives - that creates something tangible that people can relate with. Making A Door Less Open sometimes gives into temptation, it prays for divine intervention, it lusts for connection. 

The dynamic between ‘Deadlines (Hostile)’ and ‘Deadlines (Thoughtful)’, placed at opposing sides of the track list is a thought-provoking contrast. The former an exhilarating rock song with the addictive repetition of “am I, am I, am I on your mind?” energised by its sexual tension, Will ponders giving into temptation. ‘Deadlines (Thoughtful)’ wakes with a drum beat that instantly craves aspirin. Feeling as though it could be a Hot Chip track, in parts it reaches into dance/EDM territory. It shows an opposite state of mind, instead looking towards compassion.

An album that is never afraid to change styles ‘Hollywood’ is part nu-metal, part punk. The hook on the track mixed a little too sharply, resulting in a weird feeling of pitch distortion when compared to the rest of the track. The nu-metal, ear-piercing vocals feel a little awkward and overbearing, though lyrically the song is a cutting exposé of the very worst parts Hollywood has to offer. Similar things can be said for ‘Hymn (Remix)’ where there are a few electronic textures that attack the senses a bit too aggressively. 

Making A Door Less Open is a continuation of form from a truly remarkable songwriter. Will Toledo has a special talent, creating engaging narratives that provide a unique perspective to the human experience. Not every venture into new genres is a success, but this is the product of a thoroughly meticulous mind, constantly tinkering with song structure and new ideas.

Making A Door Less Open is released on 1 May 2020 via Matador. 

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