London Student

Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy: “Complex and fascinating”


There are three interesting stories to Twin Fantasy. The first is the album’s creation itself. Will Toledo first released Twin Fantasy under the name Car Seat Headrest in 2011, for free on bandcamp. He was 19, and had written and recorded the entire work himself, using his laptop’s built-in microphone and his mum’s car for a vocal booth. The album amassed a cult following on sites like reddit and 4chan, and in 2015 Toledo signed to Matador, who insisted that Toledo re-record the album. Toledo, feeling that he’d never done his imagination of the album justice the first time round, agreed, and after culling tracks from his extensive catalogue for 2015’s Teens of Style, and 2016’s stand-out Teens of Denial, he set to work on this unprecedented project with a full band, budget, and proper studio.

This was risky – the album was already adored, and the extremely lo-fi quality of the record was in many ways an important part of its fabric, the medium also being a part of the art. The way in which Toledo’s genius, tender lyrics and arrangements emerged from the damaged milieu of clipping guitars and hissing feedback mirrored his subject matter of trying to conjure up an all-conquering love from the mess of his life. The sound of someone’s ambitions and hopes fighting against their imperfections and limitations was heard in the production as much as the lyrics.

And thus we’re onto the second interesting story, that of the album’s subject. For this a concept album of sorts, dealing with a formative relationship that Toledo was in at the time of the original recording. So important and intense was the relationship that Toledo actually recorded three albums about it, seemingly as almost therapeutic attempts to process the emotions and happenings that were too monumental and confusing to fully appreciate at the time. It is a beautifully precious relationship – one between two outsiders who find in each other a sanctuary of acceptance, and an opportunity for the intimacy they crave. Yet it is threatened. The problems that they seek shelter from in each other – drugs, mental illness, social awkwardness, sexual identity struggles, a crushing fear of loneliness – simultaneously imperil the relationship. “We were wrecks before we crashed into each other” Toledo sings on ‘Sober to Death’. The relationship is punctuated by separation and distance – many references to Toledo’s boyfriend are of his absence. There are elements of dissatisfaction, with no overt mentions of romance, other than Toledo opening ‘Cute Thing’ with “I got so fucking romantic – I apologise”.

Yet there are gleeful moments. We hear of Toledo’s cheek-burning infatuation – “My ears perked up when your ears perked up/You were looking around/And I hoped it was for me”. And when he sings the line “When we dance” in the chorus of ‘Bodys’, it prompts the most indulgently pop-rock four bars of the whole album. We explore the relationship from numerous perspectives and points in time, looking at all the desperate, embarrassing, joyous details. For Toledo, it is an infatuation, an obsession, and a salvation from loneliness – but maybe it isn’t really love. By the end of the album, it has collapsed. Yet, his approach to this is stoic, plaintive. And strangely, Toledo’s closing remark is “When I come back, you’ll still be here”.

This makes sense when you consider the third story of this album – Toledo’s treatment of fantasy. Of course, the idea of fantasy lies in the title, but it is only properly discussed in the final track ‘Twin Fantasy (Those Boys)’ when he sings “it is just a song/It’s a version of you and me that can exist outside of everything else”. In one sense, Toledo is expressing that much of what he perceives of his boyfriend is a fantasy, a product of his own imagination, to fill in the gaps, to guide interpretation. On the album’s original version, this was much more explicit, with the closing monologue of ‘Nervous Young Humans’ finding Toledo telling his boyfriend that “I, like, created you as a character, pretending that I know a lot more about you than I actually do”. That monologue has disappeared, but the idea lives on: the little we know about his relationship and his boyfriend is mostly Toledo’s fantasy. Some fans contend that Toledo’s boyfriend is purely fantasy, but I think he’s being more subtle than this, with elements of reality merged with elements of desire.

So what is real and what is fake? There’s never an explanation, but that’s the point. If you are deeply in love there is a distance and uncertainty imposed, necessarily, by fantasy – human beings are too complex to be understood and perceived without the interference of our own personalities infecting our interpretation of theirs. So despite the relationship ending, that part of his boyfriend that was purely a character, and a fantasy, endures. Indeed, if there’s any overarching message to the album, it’s that the imprint of love endures long after it is extinguished, and the fact that he revisited these emotions and found them to be just as intense seven years down the line is as much testament to that as any of the lyrics.

There’s also another level of fantasy, for Toledo is aware that our interpretation of his writings about the relationship will equally be infected by our own hopes and expectations. “If it is just a fantasy, then anything can happen here” – by singing about the relationship Toledo creates a world in our heads where things can be different, where the distinctions between reality and fantasy don’t matter. In this world, if nowhere else, the often impossible desires he has, like to love “a fugitive from the laws of nature”, can be realised. Toledo goes meta a lot actually, and I think the most telling example is the inclusion of an answer phone message from the artist Hojin Jung at the end of ‘High to Death’, where she describes painting a series of pictures about ‘The Lady’, during a period of intensity and illness in her youth. She was convinced the lady loved her, and that she loved her too. It’s hard not to read this as an allegory for Toledo’s experience of writing about, then revisiting, his own relationship, and almost wilfully losing track of what is real and what is fake. But Toledo also gives the impression that the confusion has abated for him now – to end ‘Famous Prophets (Stars)’ he samples a reading of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, including the line “for now we only see a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face”*. That “now” is seven years ago for Toledo, and “then” is the present day – now he has found a way to see things clearly. So what is it that he knows now that he didn’t then? A clue comes from his modification of the line “and now these three remain: faith, hope, and love” to “and now these two remain”. Not only is it badass blasphemy to alter Biblical quotes to valorise your gay lover, it shows that Toledo feels that the enduring memory and impact of the relationship compensates for the faith, hope, and love he felt that was lost. The true value of the relationship was in how it changed him.

This is a deep, lyrical album about romantic obsession, that invites obsession itself. It’s full of Easter eggs, from songs that reference each other or other Car Seat Headrest songs, to references from literature and other bands’ songs (The Flaming Lips, Frank Ocean, John Lennon, They Might Be Giants, Led Zeppelin, and Leonard Cohen are all happily interpolated). And though the lyrics are rich, the music delivers too. Mostly this is wiry, agitated and ambitious rock, like The Strokes trying to be The Who. ‘Nervous Young Inhumans’, ‘Bodys’, and ‘Cute Thing’ are all glam-spangled alt-rock hits, and ‘Sober to Death’ channels the rusted melancholy of Southern Gothic. ‘Famous Prophets (Stars)’ and ‘Beach Life-In-Death’ are epics (clocking up 30 minutes between them) with careful builds, fades, and rebuilds. The music’s main purpose is to provide a setting for Toledo’s lyrics, and it achieves this excellently.

Despite the production being more polished, it hasn’t erased the charm of the original record. Matador call it a ‘reimagining’, but really it is more of a restoration of the original, with the moments of genius that were always visible now painted in more spectacular colours, and the layers of grime that obscured others being washed away. ‘Cute Thing’ particularly benefits from the re-recording, with the guitars now crunching furiously rather than bottoming out. The minor changes to the lyrics are all enhancements, and the substantial changes to samples and speeches offer greater profundity. Plus, there have been no attempts to commercialise the record – in fact, nearly all the songs have got longer.

This endlessly-interpretable and mysterious record defies convention, and is surely the most honest and lyrically-engaging rock record of the decade. And by weaving the very story of revisiting the original album and the events it concerns into the fabric of the record, Toledo has changed it for the better, creating a complex and fascinating piece of art that channels all the confusion and intensity of teenage emotion whilst simultaneously examining the nature of love – what it can and can’t save us from, what it can and can’t endure, how it changes us, how it stays with us long after it has gone.


*This quote is also where the subtitles of the original and new album come from. The 2011 version is referred to by fans as ‘Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror)’ and the 2018 version ‘Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)’.

Leave a comment

David Young


  • I simply want to tell you that I’m newbie to blogs and definitely enjoyed your web blog. Almost certainly I’m planning to bookmark your site . You certainly have excellent articles. Thanks a bunch for revealing your webpage.

  • Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too fantastic. I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it smart. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is really a terrific site.

  • I as well as my pals have already been going through the excellent information and facts located on your web site and all of a sudden got a horrible feeling I had not thanked the website owner for those tips. All the men were absolutely glad to learn all of them and now have quite simply been having fun with those things. Many thanks for turning out to be so helpful and for utilizing some brilliant subjects millions of individuals are really eager to learn about. My honest regret for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

  • I am going to devices this study to Two models of All those: existing Zune property owners who are contemplating an up grade, and individuals hoping toward determine between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worthy of contemplating out there, which include the Sony Walkman X, however I be expecting this provides your self adequate details toward produce an informed final decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as very well.)

  • Hey, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your tremendous writings. Past few posts are just a little out of track! come on!

  • you’re in reality a just right webmaster. The site loading velocity is amazing. It kind of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a magnificent task on this subject!

  • I like what you guys are up too. Such intelligent work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my web site :).

  • you are actually a just right webmaster. The web site loading pace is amazing. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a wonderful task in this subject!

  • I think this web site has some very great info for everyone :D. “We rarely think people have good sense unless they agree with us.” by Francois de La Rochefoucauld.

  • I do accept as true with all the ideas you have presented on your post. They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for newbies. May you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  • I was reading through some of your blog posts on this internet site and I think this internet site is very instructive! Keep on posting.

  • Gday here, just turned out to be familiar with your blog through Google, and discovered that it’s seriously informational. I’ll take pleasure in if you decide to continue such.

  • MetroClick specializes in building completely interactive products like Photo Booth for rental or sale, Touch Screen Kiosks, Large Touch Screen Displays , Monitors, Digital Signages and experiences. With our own hardware production facility and in-house software development teams, we are able to achieve the highest level of customization and versatility for Photo Booths, Touch Screen Kiosks, Touch Screen Monitors and Digital Signage. Visit MetroClick at or , 121 Varick St, New York, NY 10013, +1 646-843-0888

  • Varick Street Litho , VSL Print is one of the top printing company in NYC to provide the best Digital Printing, Offset Printing and Large Format Printing in New York. Their printing services in NYC adopts state of the art digital printing services and offset digital printing for products postcards, business cards, catalogs, brochures, stickers, flyers, large format posters, banners and more for business in NYC. For more information on their digital printing nyc, visit or at 121 Varick St, New York, NY 10013, US. Or contact +1 646 843 0800

  • Many thanks to you for sharing most of these wonderful threads. In addition, the perfect travel and medical insurance program can often relieve those worries that come with journeying abroad. Some sort of medical crisis can in the near future become very costly and that’s certain to quickly set a financial impediment on the family finances. Having in place the ideal travel insurance package deal prior to leaving is worth the time and effort. Cheers

  • Thanks for your posting on the vacation industry. I’d also like contribute that if you are a senior thinking about traveling, it can be absolutely important to buy traveling insurance for seniors. When traveling, older persons are at biggest risk of experiencing a health emergency. Obtaining right insurance plan package for your age group can look after your health and give you peace of mind.

  • I have recently started a blog, the info you offer on this web site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work. “Everyone is responsible and no one is to blame.” by Will Schutz.

  • Thank you for each of your efforts on this web page. Betty take interest in doing internet research and it is easy to see why. My partner and i notice all relating to the compelling mode you give useful strategies by means of the web site and as well strongly encourage participation from website visitors about this subject matter and my simple princess is actually starting to learn so much. Enjoy the rest of the year. You have been conducting a really great job.

  • Magnificent web site. Plenty of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks for your effort!

  • Howdy there, just became familiar with your wordpress bog through Search engine, and have found that it’s seriously informational. I’ll like if you decide to maintain such.

  • Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  • I haven’t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  • I like what you guys are up also. Such clever work and reporting! Carry on the excellent works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my web site :).

  • I do consider all of the ideas you’ve introduced on your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very brief for beginners. Could you please extend them a little from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  • wonderful issues altogether, you simply received a logo new reader. What may you suggest about your put up that you simply made some days in the past? Any certain?

  • I together with my buddies were following the nice information and facts found on your website and then unexpectedly got a terrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the web site owner for them. Most of the guys had been totally excited to study all of them and have sincerely been having fun with these things. Thank you for indeed being so helpful as well as for making a choice on variety of helpful subject matter millions of individuals are really wanting to be aware of. My very own honest apologies for not saying thanks to sooner.

  • I truly enjoy examining on this web site , it has wonderful blog posts. “We find comfort among those who agree with us–growth among those who don’t.” by Frank A. Clark.

  • I’ve read some excellent stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you set to create the sort of fantastic informative website.

  • Good day here, just started to be aware about your post through Google, and discovered that it’s very entertaining. I’ll take pleasure in should you decide continue this idea.

  • I really wish to inform you you that I am new to blogging and undeniably liked your article. More than likely I am most likely to remember your blog post . You indeed have superb article materials. Like it for share-out with us your current blog information

  • Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice post.

  • F*ckin’ tremendous issues here. I am very glad to see your post. Thanks so much and i am taking a look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  • I like what you guys are up also. Such smart work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site :).

  • Keep up the fantastic piece of work, I read few content on this internet site and I believe that your site is very interesting and holds bands of great information.

  • I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this web site. Thanks, I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?

  • I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  • Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue with your website in web explorer, may check this… IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a large section of other people will miss your excellent writing because of this problem.

  • Nice blog here! Also your site loads up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  • Great goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely magnificent. I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is actually a great website.

  • Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your website is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the information I already searched all over the place and simply could not come across. What a great web site.

  • Thank you, I’ve just been searching for info approximately this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I have found out till now. However, what about the bottom line? Are you certain in regards to the supply?

  • What i do not understood is in fact how you are now not really a lot more well-preferred than you might be right now. You are very intelligent. You already know therefore considerably relating to this matter, made me individually imagine it from numerous numerous angles. Its like women and men don’t seem to be interested except it is one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. At all times take care of it up!

  • I got what you intend, thanks for putting up.Woh I am lucky to find this website through google. “Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public.” by Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno.

  • I have not checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  • I do believe all the ideas you’ve introduced for your post. They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for novices. May just you please extend them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.