Twin Fantasy re-records old album, Toledo’s maturity brings new ideas

Twin Fantasy re-records old album, Toledo’s maturity brings new ideas

Ben Olson, staff reporter

At age 19, Will Toledo, under the alias of Car Seat Headrest, composed the album Twin Fantasy. Nobody knew about it besides a select group of friends and a couple of family members, so there it sat on a small corner of the Internet in 2011. Life went on, and Toledo kept releasing low-budget projects, even though his fame was beginning to rise. Unlike most upcoming artists who reach appeal using a breakthrough album, it was Twin Fantasy that propelled him into a star. The gay, teenaged loner who recorded songs in his backseat afraid of being heard by his parents was now touring globally with large critical praise. We can thank Twin Fantasy for that.

Seven years later, Toledo and his backing band have re-recorded the cult album, stating that the product was “never finished.” Make no mistake though, this is no regular re-recording of the old album. Gone are poor low-fidelity recordings and feedback-laden guitars, but rather professional studio work and 80s synths. Drum machines are replaced, the whirring computer fan is obsolete and lyrics that aren’t relevant to the 25-year-old have been taken out. 2018’s Twin Fantasy is its own studio album, redone, recreated and reimagined.

The iconic drum intro of “My Boy” shows Toledo paying homage to his heroes, specifically esteemed 1960s producer Phil Spector. The once reserved “High To Death” explodes with a much-needed punch, and unlike in the 2011 edition, the notes Toledo is playing are finally decipherable.

The album’s two centerpieces are by far the best reworkings. “Beach Life-In-Death,” is truthfully compared to songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen or “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead through the usage of its multiple sections and numerous memorable lines. “It should be called antidepression as a friend of mine suggested. Because it’s not the sadness that hurts you, it’s the brain’s reaction against it.” Toledo wails over crushing guitar and pounding drums.

One of the big selling points of the 2011 version was the raw and passionate tone the album gave off. Childish lyrics and puzzled inquiries about the world have been replaced with more mature topics that reflect Toledo’s current state of mind. The charm and quirkiness isn’t necessarily gone, but the naive outlook that made the album so charismatic is lacking.

The lyrics on Twin Fantasy are the main attraction as they are hard-hitting, emotional and moving. “I pretended I was drunk when I came out to my friends. I never came out to my friends. We were all on Skype and I laughed and changed the subject,” Toledo utters, akin to reading his personal diary. When he’s not reading his own entries, he’s speaking like an awkward and sexually-confused character. It’s heartbreaking and about as real as you can get in the music industry.

2018’s re-recording of Twin Fantasy is not superior to the original, but then again, how could it be? The emotions that Toledo pours out are so powerful that it became the soundtrack for the queer community. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the album, then nothing will.