Car Seat Headrest – ‘Hollywood’ Track Review
‘Hollywood,’ Car Seat Headrest’s latest single from their forthcoming album, Making a Door Less Open, is a curious one. From a purely instrumental standpoint, the track is infectious: guitar riffs and steady drum-beats sit alongside squiggly synth-lines and vocal processing that shudders and shrieks. Tracks sit neatly, serving their purpose in the mix, and the guitar work is just dirty enough for the MIDI sounds to be allowed to wallow in a slightly murkier, dirtier environment. It makes for alarming, yet engaging, listening. Described as a quasi-collaboration between the band and 1 Trait Danger (an electronic side project from Car Seat Headrest bandleader Will Toledo and drummer Andrew Katz), the match-up proves to be jarring in a pretty brilliant way.
The song is ultimately let down, however, by subpar lyrics that don’t quite cohere into a track as effective as the band probably desired. There’s an anger in the song that feels not completely focused or decided upon. A landscape of Hollywood’s sins and errors are presented, but the effect is not as intense as it could be. There are great lines, such as the final verse’s “12 year olds on pills waking up in beds of big producers,” and the first verse’s “the poster’s painted over in a week if it stinks/ So let the people decide/ On a metro ride.” The issue is that these two disparately important topics – Hollywood’s well documented issue with predatory behaviour and paedophilia, and the fleeting nature of fame the fickle tastes of the public – are given equal room in the track. The sins presented never reach a high enough number for the listener to be overwhelmed. Nor is there enough intensity or detail in any of the transgressions for the listener to become truly engaged with any one aspect of Toledo’s condemnation of Hollywood.
For a song that is so clearly intended to be about the lyrics, which are sometimes shockingly blunt, the best aspect of the track is the instrumentation, particularly in how it falls apart and re-assembles itself. The lyrics are disappointingly not shocking enough for the song to drive home Toledo’s point, and too many filler lines that disrupt the song’s impact.
Making a Door Less Open is due to be released on May 1st. Alongside ‘Hollywood’ are two other singles, ‘Can’t Cool Me Down,’ and ‘Martian.’
An edited version of this review can also be found at giglist.com