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Car Seat Headrest Blasts Off With The Brilliant 'Vincent'

You're about to listen to a song from what is likely to be my No. 1 album of 2016. I haven't felt this way about a guitar-based rock record since I heard Courtney Barnett's debut last year.

Teens of Denial, by Car Seat Headrest, is a brilliant set of new songs from songwriter Will Toledo and his band. "Vincent," the song in the video here is a novel inside an epic rock song about parties. That might not usually be the stuff of deep self-examination, but this young man has an ability to fuel his words with distorted guitars, drums and more. (You can hear the nearly eight-minute-long album version of the song on this week's All Songs Considered later today.)

In an email, Toledo described "Vincent" as "both for and about parties, partying, etc. Fighting to hold one's place in the crowd, to hold one's drink. Shouting to be heard, but what's the point, no one's saying anything worth listening to. Wanting to leave, not wanting to go home. Music is too loud."

Teens of Denial, which will be out in late spring, is Car Seat Headrest's first album of new material for Matador Records, following last year's Teens of Style, which compiled songs from 11 previous self-released albums. Toledo is only 23, but he's already come a long way since producing and singing songs in the back seat of his parents' car.


Will Toledo sent me the lyrics for "Vincent" complete with annotations that lend insight to and describe the inspiration behind his twisted intoxicated tale.

"and half the time I want to go home
and half the time I want to go home"
for the past year I've been living in a town
that gets a lot of tourists in the summer months
they come and they stay for a couple days
but hey, I'm living here every day

[I went to the College of William & Mary, which borders on colonial Williamsburg. During my senior year I was renting a room in a house on the opposite side of the colonial neighborhood, which meant I spent a lot of time travelling through 18th-century streets on a bicycle. —Will Toledo]

"I don't need the complications
I'm just in it for the beating
it's almost a point of pride
they say that it doesn't happen that often
pure sadism
pure sadism
pure sadism
pure sadism
I find it harder to speak
when someone else is listening
in the back of a medicine cabinet
you can find your life story
and your future in the side effects
I haven't played guitar in months
my strings all broke"
they got a portrait by Van Gogh
on the Wikipedia page
for clinical depression

[In case they ever change it, the portrait in question is Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate).]

"well, it helps to describe it
yeah, it helps to describe it
yeah, it helps to describe it
yeah, it helps to describe it
yeah, it helps to describe it..."
I don't have the strength
(I don't have the time)
I poured myself a drink
(I told myself a lie)
you know I've worried
(you know I've tried)
don't you know I'm not strong?
(don't you know I'm not kind?)
someone's getting lucky
(someone's calling the cops)
someone take me away
(someone make it all stop)
I had a bright tomorrow
(I spent it all today)
now I am silent at last
now I have nothing to say

[Another take on the archetypal party scene, previously explored in the Starving While Living cut "I Hate Living." I like this song better, though. —WT]

"If I'm being honest with myself
I haven't been honest with myself"
it must be hard to speak in a foreign language
intoxicado
intoxicado
intoxicado
intoxicado
intoxicado
intoxicado

[A reference to a lawsuit in which a man with a brain clot was taken to a hospital and instead treated for a drug overdose, after his family's description of his condition ("intoxicado") was mistakenly translated as "intoxicated" rather than "sick." —WT]

I find it easier to sleep
(and half the time I want to go home)
when I'm not holding the noise machine
(and half the time I want to go home)

[A variant of these lines appears in the Teens of Style version of "Times to Die." I actually wrote them for this song first, then inserted them in "Times." —WT]

and half the time, I'm like THIS -
they'll send in Matt. CAPtain Trash!

[A friend of mine told me he dreamed I had a song with these lyrics in it, referring to another friend of mine named Matt, whom he had never met. So I put it in this song. Sorry, Matt. —WT]

"I don't have the strength
(I don't have the time)
I poured myself a drink
(I told myself a lie)
you know I've worried
(you know I've tried)
don't you know I'm not strong?
(don't you know I'm not kind?)
someone's getting lucky
(someone's calling the cops)
someone takes me away
(someone makes it all stop)
I had a bright tomorrow
(I spent it all today)
now I am silent at last
now I have nothing to say"

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