Three Piece Combo: Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Denial

In a recurring series, strangelooks presents some of our favorite sequential three track combinations. Here, we have tracks 4, 5, and 6 from Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Denial.

written by: Casper

Will Toledo aka Car Seat Headrest, is becoming one of the most well-received contemporary Indy Rock artists, with much of his acclaim coming from his 2016 album Teens of Denial. From that album, multiple songs tackle the struggles of teens in the modern age, but three in particular show the realizations and maturation of Toledo himself.

Track 4: Drugs With Friends

Joe gets kicked out of school for using drugs. This song has simple instrumentation, which puts nearly all of the focus on the lyrics. It starts with the self loathing of a young alcoholic: “Hangovers feel good when I know it’s the last one. Then I feel so good that I have another one.” Toledo then mentions using hallucinogens in the hope of expanding his mind, only to feel like a walking piece of shit.

Being part of the youth drug culture, he recognizes that he and his friends are in a cycle of anxiety and self-medication, which only makes them feel more anxious. “Afraid of the cops when I was outside. Afraid of my friends when I was inside. And I grew tired of the scene.” He comes to the realization that he and the ones around him are, in many ways, lost. “There were people getting drunk. There were people getting high. They were falling to pieces right before my eyes.” He comes to see this form of self medication as an unfortunate generational norm. Sarcastically embracing this, he repeats the phrases “drugs are better with friends," and “drugs are better than friends.” 

Track 5: Not What I Needed

As a confused youth looking for answers, Toledo mocks blanketed advice “I know when I’m being catered to. I will not settle for the lowest common denominator.” He continues this point and shows his witty sense of humor when he sings:

“Good people give good advice. Get a job, eat an apple, it will work itself out. It’s a phase. It’s chemistry. It’s your own fault. Well, don’t listen to us. We’re just people too.”

He continues to reference other advice he receives throughout the song, only to realize that in the end, true understanding comes from within. 

Track 6: Drunk Drivers (Killer Whales)

The centerpiece of the album, Toledo creates a heavy but fitting juxtaposition by comparing Drunk Drivers to Killer Whales. Through out the song he states “It’s not okay Drunk Drivers.” He continues:

“You share the same fate as the people you hate. Here’s that voice in your head giving you shit again. But you know he loves you, and he doesn’t mean to cause you pain. Please listen to him. It’s not too late to turn off the engine, get out of the car and start to walk. Drunk Drivers.”

Sounding almost on on the verge of tears from emotional strife, Toledo repeats “Drunk Drivers, it doesn’t have to be like this.” 

The reworked single version of the song continues in its closing lines:

“If you run out of drugs you can sleep without ‘em, I know you can. And if you wanna go home, you can call a taxi. And if you don’t want to talk you can sit in the backseat.” 

Throughout the album, Toledo shows his sense of humor, wit, and overall awareness to the things around him. These three songs show his progression from turning to drugs as a solution to his problems to realizing that they give him a sense of emptiness.