PS Picks: Car Seat Headrest's Starkly Honest and Ragged Lyrics

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
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Will Toledo, lead singer of Car Seat Headrest, performs at the 2017 ACL Music Festival held at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on October 7th, 2017.

Will Toledo, lead singer of Car Seat Headrest, performs at the 2017 ACL Music Festival held at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on October 7th, 2017.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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It took me a while to warm up to Car Seat Headrest, mostly because their name is Car Seat Headrest (specters of my disillusioned older brothers still sneer inside my brain sometimes). But once I heard the cool, insouciant strum that opens the song "(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends"—again: ignore the specters—play loudly over the speakers at some random bar, I knew my skepticism had been ill-placed. "Drugs With Friends," is one of 12 songs on Car Seat Headrest's 2016 album Teens of Denial (rise above the specters). I'm not being hyperbolic here when I say that there's not a weak song on the album. Car Seat Headrest frontman Will Toledo writes starkly honest and ragged lyrics, often laced with skepticism directed at the relationships and lifestyle life rock and roll has promised him; on "Drugs With Friends," for example, he writes, "Last Friday I took acid and mushrooms/I did not transcend, I felt like a walking piece of shit/In a stupid looking jacket." It takes some level of cognizance, and certainly paranoia, to ingest a psychedelic and focus only on your own ineptitude; it takes real courage to put that admission in a song.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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