Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial [Matador, 2016]
The tell on Teens of Style, wherein wundertwentysomething Will Toledo rerecorded 11 of his hundredsomething Bandcamp songs for physical purchase, revises his 2012 "Times to Die" to include the line "Got to believe that Lombardi loves me"--Lombardi being not Vince but Matador prexy Chris, who financed and marketed Teens of Style, unleashing the rock dreams that freed Toledo up to buckle down and make a great album like the major artist he always wanted to be. True, existential depression is Toledo's sole subject, without much in the way of romantic travail to universalize it. But on Teens of Denial, Toledo renders that indie-rock ur-theme, um, relatable--grand, rousing, philosophical, ecological, funny, riffy, confused, out front, and of course tuneful. Where once his leads blurred into generalized multitracking, here you can make out his congested, drolly personable, Jonathan Richman-channeling voice. And while to shape his associative structures would betray unseemly firmness of purpose, he milks incantatory repetition like he minored in soukous, extending seven songs past five minutes and three past 7:48: "Drugs are better with friends are better with drugs are better . . . .," say, or the three 12-second "I give up"s that climax the 11:46 "Ballad of the Costa Concordia." As Lombardi surely knows, these are feints. It's too late to give up now. Kid doesn't even like drugs. A