Years before Will Toledo became indie-famous in the wake of Car Seat Headrest’s 2016 breakthrough Teens Of Denial, he was among the most prodigiously talented underground singer-songwriters posting album after self-made album on Bandcamp. From 2010 to 2014, a prolific woodshedding period that predates the release of his 2015 Matador debut Teens Of Style, Toledo shared a whopping 11 albums on the independent musician platform. Taken together, these releases tell a fascinating coming-of-age story about a young man’s artistic maturation.
The gem of this bunch is 2011’s Twin Fantasy, an ambitious song-cycle that found Toledo experimenting with sprawling, multi-part mini-epics that extend well beyond the 10-minute mark. Toledo later honed this suite-oriented style of songwriting on tracks like the Teens Of Denial centerpiece “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” which builds with purpose over the course of several minutes to an anthemic climax.
Twin Fantasy, however, isn’t so refined. Back then, Toledo was a more like a mad scientist with too many ideas trying to cram everything into a single beast, resulting in wild and thrilling wonders like “Beach Life-in-Death” and “Famous Prophets (Stars)” that threaten to fall apart at any moment and yet, miraculously, don’t.
Lyrically, Toledo is no less ambitious on Twin Fantasy, writing frankly about a doomed, obsessive love affair with sardonic wit and unguarded despair. Packing in references to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and philosophical ideas derived from aesthetics about man’s fraught relationship with human-like objects, Toledo also occasionally steps outside of his songs to comment on them as they’re happening. Like in the scrappy Guided By Voices homage “Bodys,” in which Toledo drolly wonders, “Is it the chorus yet? No. It’s just a building of the verse / So when the chorus does come, it’ll be more rewarding.” Another personal favorite aside occurs in “Nervous Young Inhumans,” in which Toledo wanders from the song to note the Shelley influence, like a film director deconstructing a scene on the DVD commentary track.