How Car Seat Headrest Crafted Twin Fantasy From Demo to Masterpiece

By: Jacob Hamstra / Twitter

Magnum opus is described in the dictionary as: “a large and important work of art, music, or literature, especially one regarded as the most important work of an artist.” Most musicians and artists alike will find their magnum opus over the course of their career. Consider Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Queen’s A Night at the Opera, or David Bowie’s posthumous Blackstar, just to name a few. In small town Williamsburg, Virginia, 2011, 19-year-old Will Toledo was about to write his magnum opus and take the indie music scene by storm.

My Boy, It Begins Here

Will Toledo had just transferred to the College of William and Mary when work began on what would become Twin Fantasy, his fifth album under the Car Seat Headrest moniker, and the first he considers to be a true album. It’s quite the goliath of a record composed of 10 songs spanning an hour long, all recorded on a cheap laptop microphone and instruments played solely by Will.

The songs were recorded with a very rough, edgy sound to them. They almost seem unfinished in that way. The crunchy guitars glide over Toledo’s soaring, yet quiet, vocals.

How someone could create such a sprawling story with such little resources is really something to be studied by aspiring musicians and songwriters alike.

Nervous and Young

Considered to be a concept album, Twin Fantasy tells the story and hardships of Will Toledo and his boyfriend at the time. It’s absolutely heartbreaking listening to Toledo plead for love as he explores both what it means to love, and his own sexuality.

The pain and depression he had endured during those times can be truly felt on songs such as the twin tracks “Sober to Death” and “High to Death”. You can feel the emptiness he feels during sex on the song “Bodys.” You can feel his longing for love on “My Boy (Twin Fantasy).” Every emotion is felt, and you are suddenly stepping into the shoes of a nervous, young teen just trying to find his way.

Devil On One Shoulder

Twin Fantasy was posted to the band’s Bandcamp on November 2nd, 2011, to not much fanfare, with only 100 downloads in its initial release. Over time, the album grew in popularity due to forums Reddit and 4chan; but why? Why did it gain so much attention? Why did so many people grow attached, including myself, to some young kid singing of love. I think it can all be explained with this one line from “Bodys”:

There’s no devil on one shoulder and angel on the other

They’re just two normal people

This album is the story of someone lost and confused in the adult world. They’re lost with their sexuality. They don’t know what love or companionship truly is. They don’t know where they’re going in life…and that is something everyone can relate to. This isn’t a grandiose tale of theatrics like you’d get on other concept albums; this is just an album about two normal people, and sometimes those stories can be the most compelling.

Sometimes it can be nice to hear a story brought down to reality. A story of love, loss, and sexuality passed down by a normal college student. A story that isn’t even a story. Everything is real.

The love is real.

The emotions are real.

The pain is real.

2018: Their Big Year

After the release and critical acclaim of 2015’s Teen of Style and 2016’s Teens of Denial it seemed like the perfect time to finally perfect Toledo’s unfinished masterpiece. That is when we receive 2018’s Twin Fantasy (Face to Face), a polished and completely reworked version of the 2011 album.

An improvement in every way, Face to Face made Twin Fantasy accessible to everyone and gave way for a much wider audience. It finally allows Toledo’s story to be heard by the masses.

The band is on the top of their game, and Toledo’s vocal delivery can give goosebumps on songs like “Beach Life-In-Death” and “Famous Prophets (Stars).” “Bodys” will forever and always be one of my most heavily played sing-along songs on my phone.

This album reaches for an anxious and lost audience and grips on to them for dear life, giving them an outlet to let loose and dance (and cry) out their emotions. It takes you into its arms and let’s you know everything will be alright. After all…

It’ll take some time, but somewhere down the line

We won’t be… 

…alone.

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