After receiving critical acclaim for 2016’s Teens Of Denial and 2018’s Twin Fantasy , a reworking of the lo-fi bandcamp classic first released in 2011, Will Toledo brings Car Seat Headrest into a transitional period with their latest release. While Toledo has been slowly shifting away from his Lo-Fi roots since signing with Matador records in 2015, Making a Door Less Open marks their greatest shift yet.
Lead single ‘Can’t Cool Me Down’ is a synth driven departure from the bands previous sound and drew a mixed response from fans, especially due to negative comparisons to the more energetic live version. Despite the mixed reception it remains a well-crafted song which showcases the band successfully trying something new. ‘Deadlines (Thoughtful)’ is another great switch up, a slow building indietronica track stacked with glitchy electronics evocative of The Postal Service.
‘Hollywood’, however, is simply not good.
Featuring drummer Andrew Katz on vocals akin to Katz’s comedy rap side project 1 Trait Danger the track is an uneasy mix of the sounds of that project with Car Seat Headrest’s more traditional style. The album is littered with similar less than successful experiments like ‘Hymn – Remix’ or the LP’s closing track ‘Famous’.
Tracks like ‘Martin’, featuring a jangly acoustic guitar and saxophone find the band progressing in a more natural way. ‘Life Worth Missing’ is a standout track, with twinkling synths building to an emotional climax in typical Car Seat Headrest fashion.
The fantastic penultimate track, ‘There Must Be More Than Blood’, finds the band in more familiar territory. At seven and a half minutes the band provides another of their trademark sprawling indie rock tracks reminiscent of the 2014 release How to Leave Town.
Making a Door Less Open has some great moments and interesting ideas but doesn’t manage to deliver on all of them. Toledo himself describes the album as “Newness and strangeness” and I’m optimistic to see where he takes the band next with a more refined version of their new sound.