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CAR SEAT HEADREST Making A Door Less Open gets 6/10


Car Seat Headrest

Making A Door Less Open
Matador/Remote Control

6/10

The latest from Car Seat Headrest comes in with lofty ambitions, that often take flight, but overall the disjointedness of the album leaves it lacking. Making A Door Less Open sees Car Seat Headrest flex the EDM muscles they’ve been building in satirical side project 1 Trait Danger. Flitting between full EDM bangers all the way through to ballads in the realm of late 70s rock bands, MaDLO is a bunch of great ideas thrown together to make an incongruent whole. Adding to the mess is that each release is slightly different, from online streams to CDs to vinyl.

We’re tackling the digital version, which includes the remix of Hymn. Frontman Will Toledo has stated that the original version was too long and not suited for any release other than the vinyl version, as “on a vinyl you can make people sit through songs easier”. The digital release also includes Deadlines (Thoughtful) and Deadlines (Hostile). The vinyl and CD version have Deadlines – no brackets. Each Deadlines is a totally different song. Now that we’ve cleared that up let’s get into the actual album.

The introduction is a declaration – droning synth, overproduced hi hats, pulsing beats and big beat kicks welcome Weightlifters, before the guitar attacks the rhythm – almost challenging it – fuzzy, but clean and crude. And then Toledo’s vocal – melodic and full of syllables, poetic as ever, including one of the best lines on the album: “When I saw my ordinary face/ I should start lifting weights”. It’s different, but still inherently Car Seat Headrest. But there’s so much to digest, including bluegrass strumming underneath the huge, digital production. Weightlifters handles the busyness and ambition, and is a cracking track.

Likewise with Can’t Cool Me Down. A charming, upbeat number, with its chorus begging to be sung in unison with thousands at a summer festival. Though even the simple charm of this track is interrupted with a complex break down, before continuing the poppy joy. Deadlines (Hostile) hits that Teens of Denial CSH vibe, but feels out of place on this album. The Casio-type synths seem placed there to match the electronics that happen throughout the rest of the album.

Hollywood sees Andrew Katz Join Toledo for an erratic, Dandy’s sounding, New York rock track. It’s a fine stand alone cut, even with the tired subject, but is just another idea thrown into the mix. Realised yes, but seemingly out of place. As is Hymn (remix), a cool track, but the dance floor banger comes from nowhere. As does the acoustic What’s With You Lately which sees guitarist Ethan Ives take the Mic and the spotlight on the 94-second, cock rock-esque ballad.

The album feels like Toledo and co are grabbing pieces from everywhere. I’m constantly reminded of other bands or albums: Akro//Family, Deodato, Dire Straits, Andrew WK, The Music. Individually most of the ideas work and come together as damn fine songs, but the album doesn’t hold and feels unrealised for it.

Toledo has said the album is about making great individual songs, as his listening habits had changed. “I thought that if I could make an album full of songs that had a special energy, each one unique and different in its vision, then that would be a good thing.”

Unfortunately it takes more than great songs to hold an album together, of this I’m now certain.

NEIL SOLACE

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