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Car Seat Headrest | Making a Door Less Open

Will Toldeo finds new creative freedom hidden behind a mask on his dozenth disc.


Who is that masked man? Why, it’s Will Toledo, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind the indie-rockers Car Seat Headrest. And as is so often the case, Toledo’s recent decision to sport some sort of weird modified gas-mask onstage has helped open the floodgates to new waves of creative freedom, ambition and confidence. So Making a Door Less Open, the prolific outliers’ dozenth studio album in a decade, also turns out to be his most adventurous release, pinballing between sounds and styles like vintage Beck while remaining grounded in Toldeo’s compellingly intimate and honest songcraft. Don’t let that title fool ya: Toledo’s musical door has never been open wider. Walk right in, sit right down. Daddy, let your mind roll on.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “This album was made from January 2015 to December 2019, starting as a collection of vague ideas that eventually turned into songs. I wanted to make something that was different from my previous records, and I struggled to figure out how to do that. I realized that because the way I listened to music had changed, I had to change the way I wrote music, as well. I was listening less and less to albums and more and more to individual songs, songs from all over the place, every few days finding a new one that seemed to have a special energy. 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. Andrew, Ethan, Seth and I started going into the studio to record songs that had more finished structures and jam on ideas that didn’t. Then I would mess with the recordings until I could see my way to a song. Most of the time on this album was spent shuttling between my house and Andrew’s, who did a lot of the mixing on this. He comes from an EDM school of mixing, so we built up sample-heavy beat-driven songs that could work to both of our strengths. Each track is the result of an intense battle to bring out its natural colors and transform it into a complete work. The songs contain elements of EDM, hip hop, futurism, doo-wop, soul, and of course rock and roll. But underneath all these things I think these may be folk songs, because they can be played and sung in many different ways, and they’re about things that are important to a lot of people: anger with society, sickness, loneliness, love…the way this album plays out is just our own interpretation of the tracks, with Andrew, Ethan and I forming a sort of choir of contrasting natures.”