I frequently forget that when Will Toledo released Twin Fantasy, he was the age I am today. At nineteen and in college, a lull in life that I can’t characterize with anything but the feeling of being outcast and past my prime–my fears all center around whether I have already been at my most prolific.
My favorite media today all kind of work to grasp that sense of having lived online. In the epic Beach Life-in-Death, Will walks us through an almost-too-familiar sight: of being online with friends in Skype chatrooms impossible to backread and navigate, slurring and slipping about coming out and pretending to be drunk when fucking it up. (How many times have I pretended to be drunk or dying online?)
I pretended I was drunk when I came out to my friends
I never came out to my friends
We were all on Skype
And I laughed and changed the subject
Other things that come close are smaller, a bit more distant, too. Emily is Away dramatizes the times of Windows XP and AIM chatrooms and away messages, relying a bit too much on evoked nostalgia to symbolize the course of life and loss. Nina Freeman’s Cibele in a buggy, pastel stream of mock World of Warcraft events, nudes, and unapologetic clips of walls postered up with anime and cartoons tries and fails at that intimacy with the smattering of webrings and nostalgia material without any direction.
How can one actually capture that feeling, though? How do you do it well? And I think why Twin Fantasy succeeds is that you forget that it was written about online relationships, Tumblr-driven drama, and teenage anxieties. There are no cultural touchstones every verse: rather, there is no other reality in the length of the song. There is only this world online, the love of it, and the forgotten disdain of everyone around you in the midst of these calls and jokes on the things you love. That’s where Car Seat Headrest succeeds. The love built in these spaces is as real, if not–lived even truer than the love developed anywhere else.
In Knife in the Coffee, Will sings: I stole every single song that I wrote from my seventeen-year-old ghost. Is my adulthood just going to be reliving the traumas of the lives that have already passed me? Am I doomed to salvage for these reparations:
Creation is a radical act.
When we are under everything and beyond, the one thing that cannot be taken away from us is the ability to create.