Car Seat Headrest’s single Hollywood, taken from upcoming album Making A Door Less Open, is a refreshing and welcome damnation of the place where people go to make their dreams come true.
Frontman Will Toledo pays homage to alt rock and the poetry of spoken word with a more agitated sound and references the likes of Hotel California and Bittersweet Symphony. The song focuses on the inner trappings of starving fame, and the fierce exploitation that seems quintessentially tied to the Hollywood sign; going on incessantly behind the scenes. His tone is that of sickened anger – the song screams at how unspoken about and ignored this issue is in our current day and age, how easy it is to be swept under the carpet and settled as solved any time small justice seems to take place. Whilst many lie behind bars for their exploitations, it’s becoming clearer that the industry only mothers the problem, and the culprits are only being born again in newer models. It’s raw, it’s unfiltered, and could well be a reflection of the new direction the band is going in, leading up to the release of the new album.
It explores the self-delusions that accompany this desire to climb the fickle ladder, and how people corrupt and ultimately do “terrible things to maintain their fantasy”, as Toledo explains.
The single reads very much as a cautionary tale to Hollywood and its industry. Starting off somewhat gentle, it becomes rapidly like hearing a chaotic and unfiltered stream of consciousness. Perceptive analysis is broken up by the reiteration of the chorus ‘Hollywood makes me wanna puke’ alongside sporadic calls and beckoning’s of the fame hungry ‘Come see my movie!’. The mixture of both soft vocals and a harsher strain blend harmoniously, creating a battle between urgency and clarity, in portraying the didactic element of the song. It is aspects like these that drive home a much more human response to the fragility of fame and the predatory behaviour of Hollywood; a brain so stimulated that distractions, daydreams and inner monologues are inevitable, but the truth lies still at the forefront. It ultimately accumulates in music, lyric and anger, becoming a collage of both truth and frustration at the lack of truth.
The poignant lyrics are accompanied, in true Car Seat Headrest style, by piercing, heavy riffs and a glorious hook. It seems like a call back to the glory days of alt rock and grunge, explaining how issues in Hollywood that were prevalent then are still very much ongoing. The track is certainly infectious, the continual steady drum-beat acts as the songs ‘golden thread’, keeping the audience tied to the fraying vocals and the constant dissipation and accumulation of the instrumentation. The instrumentals of the song seem to act as a reflection of the lyric – picking up and dying with the calm and calamity of the vocals, creating an environment that encourages feeling, but does not necessarily control it. The steady drum beat pairs with the almost sporadic instrumentation beautifully, in a way that is guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping, lending the same energy that the song so sparingly emulates.
Despite a divided fan base, Car Seat Headrest’s Hollywood can definitely be seen as carving out a new way forward for the band. The fresh aggravated sounds are a gift – gritty and vehemently true. It seems as though the much anticipated upcoming album is going to be a well conceived blend of this punchy new sound and the more familiar, already beloved, trademark Car Seat Headrest sound. The album drops this Friday (1st May), and from what we have heard so far, it seems certain it will be nothing short of a masterpiece.
You can listen to ‘Hollywood’ here.
You can preorder ‘Making A Door Less Open’ here.