Review Summary: we were wrecks before we crashed into each other
Once again, I can feel it coming, the last refrain is sung with a delicate falsetto, followed by heavy distorted riffs and thunderous drums come crashing down among the walls of sound for one last time and then its over. It’s here, that longing desire for it to haunt me for the rest of the day. Its left me in several different states, I’ve ended up weeping, staring at a blank paper with a smile across my face, shutting myself off completely; reflecting on my own fantasy, I’ve once, also thought to be real, however complete, a little more human, a little more inhuman, as Will Toledo’s own romantic and youthful journey has made me feel just that.
We said we hated humans, we wanted to be humans
See, it does still haunt me for hours after, but I want just that, as I’m going through the motions of my adult human life I suddenly hear the iconic opening chords to Sober to Death, the somber bass lines of the climatic Famous Prophets, or any of the meta spoken lines scattered across the album in its hour-long glory. Like the majority of the excellent and prolific band’s discography, Twin Fantasy is a record to seek comfort and refuge to, as the album deals with all the anxieties and fears you encounter while figuring yourself out, heavy subjects such as depression, loneliness, mental health, same sex relationships, and ultimately deception, make up for a vast part of the themes; while also tackling, under a brighter spectrum, on every day routines , nice shoulders, galvanism, weed, and weird sex. Will Toledo encapsulates his own private hell and delivers what’s arguably his most honest and authentic work yet.
Oh please let me join your cult, I’ll paint my face in your colors
My Boy (Twin Fantasy) serves as the perfect introduction to the record as it sets the tone and mood for the next hour, and although it doesn’t quite prepare you for every twist and brilliant moments about to follow, it does commence the tale of unrequited love as will delicately whispers and screams to his boy about how their distance problems will soon end, for they won’t be alone no more. From this moment on, Twin Fantasy simply won’t let you go, it doesn’t exactly grab you like other great records do quite well, here, it all happens from the inside, it shakes your core and toys with every one of your feelings, no matter how prepared you are, one close listen to the next track and you’ll understand.
Beach-Life-in-Death often gets lauded as the best Car Seat Headrest song by legions of internet users screaming in front of their computers about dogs and schizophrenia, rightly so, the track is a 12-minute journey through Will’s most profound desires, anxieties, and of course, fantasies, coming across as a dysfunctional young man yearning for his fleeting soul mate. Splitting the song in three acts, he delivers the vocal and musical performance with both a sense of urgency and a soothing calm, a craft that, like many others, he finally mastered on this record. In fact, if you’ve listened to the naïve and much less ambitious, however well written, records Will made before Twin Fantasy, you can see how this conceptual album is a culmination of everything he had learned up to that point, from performance to recording, it marked a huge leap forward for the kid who started recording in the back of his car.
In the aforementioned dramatic shifts that Beach goes through, not only does Toledo delivers some of his best lines in his entire career, but he also hits you with what I believe is his most memorable riff, harmonized with some gorgeous vocals, and goddamn is the riff godly, it has now become so engrained on my brain I can’t help but lose control of my limbs every time I hear it. The song culminates on it’s third part with a lo-fi sonic assault, biblical references, ears perking up, and ocean waves washing over graves, one last hoorah for the love that could have been.
And what’s best after an assault on the senses than an acoustic interlude, Stop Smoking is so simple on its nature that it conveys its tender message while soaking the listener in it’s heart warming atmosphere, channeling his inner Phil Elverum, you might end up wishing Will sings you to sleep to this song every night.
Nothing works. Nothing works for everyone, good stories are bad lives//you know that good lives makes bad stories
Perfectly balancing pessimism with newfound optimism, Sober to Death stands out as the record’s chilling ballad. Because: ¿Why does it matter how hopeless life seems to be when you’re not going through it alone? ¿Right? I dare you not to sing the last stanza over a hundred times while thinking about your own significant other.
Art gets what it wants and art gets what it deserves
The cuts that follow are sharp, upbeat and fast paced, especially for Toledo standards, Nervous Young Inhumans hits you right between the eyes with it’s steady and organic sounding drumming reminiscing of Ringo circa Revolver, the instrumental breaks get carried by reverb layered harmonies that are as charming as they are infectious, but it isn’t until Will breaks the fourth wall at the end of the song, with a heavily introspective and revealing monologue, where *** gets too real. Bringing Mary Shelly and her Frankenstein to the equation, while avoiding to directly say “I love you” he delivers an ultimate crushing line: “this is the part of the song where I start to regret writing it”.
That’s not what I wanted to say at all, I mean, I’m sick of meaning, I just want to hold you
Now, let’s be real, you can’t really be singing and rambling about your ideal relationship if you don’t ever talk about getting all physical and sweaty, well that’s actually only a part of what Will touches on stand out track, Bodys. The most danceable and good-natured cut you will find in here; dismissing most of what’s being said up to this point, Bodys wastes no time on getting straight to the point: hey-forget-everything-I-said-let’s-try-not-talk-at-all -its-time-to-dance-and-feel-each-other. The songwriting abilities displayed here are flawless, bouncing crispy drumbeats, shouted and mumbled vocals, fuzzy and unexpected chord changes, and a bridge to die for, all come together it becomes impossible not to feel Toledo’s endorphin rush.
I got so ***in romantic, I apologize, let me light your cigarette
And whilst the last song dealt with wrapping yourself around your lover’s sexy shoulders it was still nothing more than just a longing desire, as the story unfolds, it isn’t until the next acts, Cute Thing and High to Death where Will is finally physically with such person. ¿Ever took that long ass trip just to be in the arms of someone, feel their head on your chest, the world spinning, savoring every sacred second left? With its unhinged and raw performance, Cute Thing will remind you that, what now might seem fake and dishonest, was once (or at least it felt like) the realest thing you’ve ever had.
Keep smoking, I love you, keep smoking, I love you, keep smoking, I still love you, but I don’t want to die
With that in mind, you might need a minute, or five and a half, to think about how it all started to fall apart, more so, how you realized there was no turning back, now you’re too immersed in a love that might not be what you expected, so just let slow burner High to Death drown you with its distorted waves of sound, as the song is literally soaked in reverb. From its opening chords until the last synth lines, the song is a pure act of grief that is hauntingly beautiful, ideal for laying on your bed at dark blowing smoke out the window.
These teenage hands will never touch yours again
Album’s last epic piece, Famous Prophets (Minds) is a mournful and introspective number, with our narrator finally facing the consequences of an unrequited romance, shifting between soft and loud dynamics, crashing drums and guitar solos, the song builds up to the album’s climax, a repetition of stanzas that leaves you empty as they abruptly end, a breathtaking song, so devouring you will relentlessly find yourself going back to it.
For falling in love too hard you'll never set foot in this town again/Why did you tell me to come in the first place? Why did you tell me, why did you tell me, why did you? Why did? Why did? Why, why did ya?
Make no mistake, us who are deeply obsessed with this record are not lo-fi aesthetic worshipers, and while that trait does contribute a whole lot to the chaotic and organic nature of it, it isn’t that production value what makes it stand out among its contemporaries, but it’s larger than life ambition, poetic, clever, and self-aware lyricism, unique compositions and solemn deliveries, taking you along the highs and lows of his mental states and the death of his innocence while never losing his conflicted sense of humor. All taken in account, Twin Fantasy it is in fact the most magnificent lo-fi record to come out in this last decade, and straight up one of the best indie rock records ever written.
They just want to be one, walk off into the sun, they’re not kissing, they’re not ***ing, they’re just having fun fun fun
And such is the beauty of Twin Fantasy, an album that I still can’t compare to any other, you see most of my beloved music is very relatable, but Will doesn’t stop at the surface of things, of the human mind, he dares to dig deeper revealing the true turmoil he was experiencing at 19, while crafting an authentic, raw, and unaltered musical rollercoaster that it’s just as captivating while in love as it is while in heartbreak. But that is up to the listener to decide, me, well I’ve danced and sung at the top of lungs as many times as I just laid there with my eyes shut; as Will confesses in the last song, this is just his own fantasy that he wakes up from, however, forever in the corners of his mind, all perfect, just as we once imagined it.