Given that Teens of Style is a debut of sorts, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the record’s inherent looseness stems not from aesthetic decision, but lack of experience on the behalf of Car Seat Headrest.
That couldn’t be further from the truth, however, at least not as far as front-man Will Toledo is concerned. Epitomising the very definition of DIY, Toledo has amassed a catalogue of 11 solo albums since 2010, and while Teens of Style is the first with both a full band and label backing, it doesn't feel particularly removed from previous efforts either. That said, there's a previously unseen sense of cohesion at play, allowing the record's flow to feel much smoother, and more succinct than anything that has come before it.
This is brought about, in part, thanks to the streamlining of Toledo's genre-bending compositions. Much of the first half of the album is made up of scuzzy garage punk, simple in its delivery, its sharp lyricism unfortunately buried beneath the expected walls of amorphous fuzz. "Strangers" marks a turning point however, the discordant punk is replaced with light psych. Less frantic and more melodic than the flipside, the change is pronounced at first, but once the familiar scratches and crackles of the sandblasted production make themselves known the link between the two is clear.
It's this production that also hampers Teens of Style during the first half. While retaining links with Toledo's DIY past, much of the tracks bleed in to one another, making stand-out moments such as "The Drum" and "Times To Die" fall flatter than they deserve. Fortunately however, the entire second half of the record makes up for any early indiscretions, before the waltzing close of "Oh Starving!" ends things on a particularly high, if not poppy, note.