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Twin Fantasy (Face to Face): A Complete Album Analysis of Car Seat Headrest's 2018 Project.


Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest is the songwriter for all their albums, having formed the band himself. He is considered a "musical genius," because of the way he combines lyrical patterns with repetitive beats and strange meanings behind his words. In their recently re-recorded album Twin Fantasy, Toledo uses repetition and parallel language to articulate the main themes of isolation, depression, and brotherhood that are prevalent all throughout the album. To exemplify these themes, He has created this boy, the speaker, self aware of his sufferings, struggling with being trapped inside his head, or perhaps even in a physical prison. He carries those themes on his shoulders, weighing down his words in such a masterful way that you just can’t help but stay up hours with his music on repeat, fantasizing about all the different possible meanings.

Toledo starts off the album with a song titled “My boy (twin fantasy),” which repeats the lines “ My boy, we don't see each other much/ It'll take some time, but somewhere down the line/ We won't be alone” until the end. This starts the album off with a theme of brotherhood and separation to go with it. This is also repeated on the fourth track, “Sober to Death,” where Toledo won’t stop repeating “Don't worry, you and me won't be alone no more,” foreshadowing the ending of isolation for the two boys referred to, and makes the listener yearn for them to be reunited.

Later on is the repetition of “The ocean washed over your grave/ The ocean washed open your grave” until the end of Beach Life-In-Death, the second song in the album. This is a conflict against the goal of being reunited, as it makes the listener wonder if one of the two boys is buried, preventing them from being reunited.

Again in Beach Life-In-Death, Toledo writes “Because it’s not the sadness that hurts you/ it’s the brain’s reaction against it,” and “Last night I dreamed he was trying to kill you/ I woke up and I was trying to kill you,” which both refer back to the theme of depression. The masterful rhythm and parallel language of these lines force them into your head in a purposeful fashion, and are brought back again and again as you listen through. I interpret these words to speak about how The Boy is in a mental decline after the burial of his brother (or perhaps lover), who I assume to be the other boy. But the lines mentioning death and violence leads me to believe that The Boy has killed his brother, or at least attempted to. This relates back to the mental health of The Boy, and how he may be suffering, either before the burial of his brother, or because of it.

Isolation is the most prominent theme in the eighth song, “High To Death.” It sets the scene of a single room, trapped inside. “And this wallpaper/ Keeps going 'round the room/ It keeps going 'round the room.” And then he screams “William! Let me out!/ William!/ William! Let me out, William!” as if he is trapped. And we don’t hear Toledo, but a young boy. Desperate to get out, desperate to see the sun. He is trapped in isolation, both physically and mentally. He can’t be with his brother and he so desperately wants to, but he is completely separated.

To completely contrast that pure desperation, Toledo's closer Twin Fantasy (those boys),only the tenth song, resolves it shockingly fast. Right away, we hear the lyrics “I haven't looked at the sun for so long/ I'd forgotten how much it hurt to,” being repeated. Although a resolution, it solidifies our main themes of brotherhood, isolation, and depression.

The Boy finally gets out, and sees the sun. And he is reunited with his brother, walking into the sun with him. “They just want to be one/ Walk off into the sun/ They're not kissing/ They're not fucking/ They’re just having fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.” They’re finally together, and The Boy’s isolation is no longer. As they walk into the sun, I am reminded of the imagery of death, walking towards the light in your final moments. And that just might be what has happened, and why they are finally reunited.

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The Boy has killed his brother, and is in a prison, unable to see the sun. He so desperately wants to live, but wants to be with his brother and see the sun, and the only way he can do so is through death. So it finally happens, and they’re finally together. But then we learn that the album is just a fantasy. None of this was real. The struggles and victory of The Boy were never real, and our emotions were never real. “This is the end of the song, and it is just a song. This is a version of me and you that can exist outside of everything else, and if it is just a fantasy, then anything can happen from here.”

© 2021 Melanie Wynne

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