The mystery of Car Seat Headrest’s popularity, as well as the strength of the bond between listener and artists when it comes to their music, perplexes many a reviewer from what I’ve noticed, but I’ll bring forth my theory.
You know what I love about Will’s music? And what I’m sure lots of others do?
The sincerity. No, not honesty – anybody can be honest and say what’s on their mind (that skirt sucks, Brenda), but few people can grasp the essence of what it means to be sincere (that skirt sucks, Brenda, but it’s my opinion and I want you to keep doing your thing).
Will’s sincerity is probably unequaled in indie rock – he’s unashamed to admit his guilt in the chronicled relationship’s disillusion by continually hinting at the fact that it was nothing more than a case of “fell in love with my idea of someone”. He doesn’t know if he can’t accept his partner’s smoking habit (“Stop Smoking”) or not (“High to Death”). He doesn’t even know if the songs about his ex-lover are actually about them (“Beach Life-in-Death”). Hell, in the past version of “Nervous Young Inhumans” he basically said it outright: “I, like, created you as a character”.
Will is upfront about his failings as a human to be objective – throughout the whole album, there’s this sense of uncertainty that echoes in each song. Is “Bodys” meant to be a life-affirming anthem or a desperate attempt at finding meaning in a failing relationship? Would “Sober to Death” be halfway as relatable were it not for those vile, yet supposedly truthful lines (“Every conversation just ends with you screaming/Not even words, just “ah, ah, ah ah ahhh”)?
There are so many questions here, which, on a more so-called “objective” note makes this album easier to relate to. Anyone who’s gone through a painful breakup knows about the confusion that stems from it – all the “Did I?”s and the “How did?”s and the “What went wrong?”s. It’s rarely as one-sided as the vast majority of breakup albums make it up to be (I’m not saying that those albums can’t be great musically, just that they tend to be quite draining and unstimulating).
But Will doesn’t stop here – this album’s humanity cuts through all the meta-commentary and self-referencing the best on my favourite moment: the ending. On “Twin Fantasy”, Will sums it up:
“This is the end of the song, and it is just a song. It’s a version of me and you that can exist outside of everything else, and if it is just a fantasy, then anything can happen from here. The contract is up, the names have been changed. So pour one out, whoever you are. These are only lyrics now”
And so, he moves on. Just how we all move on from that confusing break-up we’ve had, and all the hate, anger and depression that seemed never-ending. Will could easily pretend that his ex is a horrible person, but he does what few can, but all want to: he comes to terms with himself and his version of the events.
So, if you ask me, it is this sincerity, as well as the incredibly emotionally relatable and honest music that brought Will the love and acclaim he rightfully deserves. This album wouldn’t work half as well were it not as excellently constructed from a songwriting standpoint as it is (this thing is incredibly catchy and imaginative lyric-wise – this is an aspect that has been analysed at length by others) but Twin Fantasy, at its best, excels and stands out because of the sincerity I’ve been droning on about, and not just the pretty bedroom pop lyrics that unfortunately all too often mask a lack of creativity in lo-fi music. You don’t even have to be depressed or dumped or whatever to enjoy this – I’m in a stable relationship and I still get chills every time I listen to the climax of “Famous Prophets” or the ending of the album because I can relate and, most importantly, feel his emotions. How often does that happen?
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When I’m not busy being a corporate drone, you’ll find me writing reviews and essays about music, video games, films and other nerd stuff encompassing all eras.