There are two oft-repeated truisms that always make me clench my fists in irritation at their sheer falsity. One is ‘you only regret the things you didn’t do’. This is absolute pish. I spend far too much of my spare time regretting the things that I have done in the past. One of the reason I need music in my life so badly is that I can easily place headphones over my ugly head and have the excessive volume of wonderful art black out the whirring commotion of my own mind. The grinding, remorseless drone of (ahem) 29 years of regrets replaying in my mind. A more accurate saying would be ‘you only regret the things that you absolutely did that you dearly wish you didn’t‘. You only regret the people you didn’t do? Fair enough. I mean, that woman at the Young Fathers gig, fuck, how did I mess that up?
However, such an insanely perspective of the nature of regret is offset by the feeling that ‘you can’t change the past’, or ‘what’s done is done’ or ‘the past is in the past’. It’s insanely easy to change the past. ‘The past’ is simply our reactions to history, just how we choose to view incidents that have raced past us on the fourth dimensional cortex and are now in the rear view mirror. The past is that guy with the thick set eyebrows that you drove past on the way to the restaurant. By the time you’re talking about him over food, the past becomes Martin Scorcese, because you’ve all convinced yourselves that it was. That’s how you view the past. That’s how you choose to interpret the past. That is the past. Later, somebody throws you the suggestion that who you actually saw on Cheltenham High Street was highly unlikely to be Martin Scorcese. They say who you actually saw was far more likely to be Eugene Levy. You accept the hypothesis. It was Mr. Levy that you saw. The past in changed.
‘Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)’ is Car Seat Headrest making plays to change their own history. It was a record initially released back in 2011, back when Car Seat Headrest was essentially just the name for the weird shit that Will Toledo got up to in his bedroom*. Many people might be shocked to discover that a lower-fi version of this record exists. Listen to it on YouTube if you don’t care for your ears much. Despite its amateur production and sound fidelity so low that it’s threatening to distort the Earth’s very core, ‘Twin Fantasy’ was obviously a masterpiece. Such a masterpiece that Will Toledo obviously regretted the fact that his most complete record so far came packaged with a sound quality that wouldn’t be considered clear enough for a 1980s alarm clock’s radio. But what could he do? He couldn’t change it. The past is in the past. What was done was, unfortunately, done.
(*I call the weird shit I get up to in my own bedroom the ‘Ride of the Valkyries’. The difference being that I’m no longer allowed to request that other people listen to it. The police caution was very clear about that. Before you suggest it, clause 14.7 also prevents me from releasing any ‘Face to Face’ style reworkings of the noise in the future. Yeah, thought I’d catch them out with that one. Shouldn’t have gloated in court about my plan to release ‘Ride of the Valkyries (Strained Reflection)’)
But why couldn’t he? The past is only untouchable if you decide not to touch it. Now Car Seat Headrest is more of a full, exciting, muscular rock band than just Toledo’s bedroom fetish, why not just record the album again? Give it the backing and the fuller, more dynamic sound it deserves? Even the lyrics, which tell of a complex and confusing relationship had which may or may not have existed entirely outside the artist’s brain, still work. The bitterness, the self-hatred, the resentment, the overwhelming love that Toledo felt back in 2011 is all still there. The relationship the album narrates exists in 2018 as much as it ever had. The feelings about it remains. if they don’t? Just change the fucking lyrics a bit, who gives a shit? This is your art, this is your statement, this is your past. I said a long (long, long, long) time ago that bo absolutely perfect album was released in 2018. In terms of ‘Twin Fantasy’, its imperfection is how its status might mean many people not considering it truly a 2018 album. That’s it though. In every other sense, ‘Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)’ is a record without flaws. Toledo has chosen to reframe his own past and in doing so has constructed an absolutely perfect present.
Double meaning! Because it’s, like, the perfect present time, and also, like, a perfect… present… for us… like, a gift.. Eugh, no, that’s lame. Scrap that. Only one meaning.
‘TF(F2F)’ is an absolutely astonishing suite of songs. And ‘suite’ isn’t too pretentious a word. The album isn’t even so much as a concept album, as many people including Toledo have claimed, as their is no obvious narrative or definite moment that these songs are about. Instead, ‘TF(F2F)’ is a collection of songs that detail the fluctuating, tangentially unstable and often incoherent thoughts that buzz around your head when you’re trying to comprehend what your confusing feelings for something are. Maybe its the mixed signals that love for somebody throws at you. That suffocating desire to be so close to somebody that you become their conjoined twin. Maybe that somebody is just life itself. You don’t fucking know, how is anybody else going to fully comprehend?
Every single track on ‘TF(F2F)’ is either building up towards something or expertly descending down from a crescendo. Every moment. It’s an album that never stays still, and manages to excite for every millisecond of its 71 minutes run time. It’s an album that would be undeniably referred to as prog-rock were the music more grandiose and the lyrics more pretentious. Instead, it’s a tight and affecting hardcore rock album, with eight minute guitar solos eschewed in favour of even more lyrics. The emotions are emo, the choruses are unashamed power pop, the riffs are rock as fuck. The resulting amalgamation is a truly unique experience. I only ever question my decision to put it at number one when I’m not listening to it. When I hear it, there are no doubts. Whenever I hear just one track I find I need to experience the full journey right up until the cathartic wails towards the end of Future Prophets (Stars). This is an album. This is an experience that demands to be fully ingested. This is a perfect statement. This is the best record of 2018 by quite a distance
Don’t agree?? Oh, I’m sorry, do you often have trouble accepting scientific facts? I’d love to hear your opinion on climate change.
That, young sir, is quite an admirable leap