AOTY 2021

Making A Door Less Open

Car Seat Headrest - Making A Door Less Open
Critic Score
Based on 32 reviews
2020 Ratings: #562 / 821
User Score
2020 Ratings: #741
Liked by 69 people
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Loud and Quiet

It reaches depths previously unseen—inspired, according to Will Toledo, by the genre-transcendent nature of living in the internet age. The new album is a masterclass in mixing influences seamlessly.


Car Seat Headrest push their lo-fi signature into newly polished (and labyrinthine) space on Making a Door Less Open. The result is a glittering look at our everyday fantasies, our patterns of style and denial.

Beats Per Minute

Toledo has always been a lovably jaded ringleader, and Making A Door Less Open continues to dwell on his self-criticism and feelings of redundancy. What makes it a continuously compelling listen is how each song manages to use different sonic approaches to extract a new shade of his despondency.

Slant Magazine
Overflowing with adventurous new ideas, the album has opened up seemingly infinite new paths for Toledo to follow going forward.
Will this collection alienate meat-and-potatoes fans, as that knowing album title suggests? Perhaps – but it’s unlikely the band will care. Far from experiencing growing pains, Car Seat seem to have had a lot of fun here.
Northern Transmissions

While Making a Door Less Open feels more mature and commercial than previous releases, it also feels like the next step on a trajectory as Toledo balances the control of solo work against the chaos, and responsibilities, of a band.


One hopes Will Toledo is more content when Car Seat Headrest next goes into the studio, but that he's also just as good and as honest as he is on Making a Door Less Open.

A weird and wonderful new offering, if you can't shake shit up for your 12th studio album, when can you, eh?
Spill Magazine

Making A Door Less Open has actually worked in the opposite direction to its title, opening the band to any direction that it chooses going forward. This kind of obvious talent, this type of restless creativity, will continue to evolve and blossom, often in directions that defy both convention and predictability.


Records like this make me excited for an artist’s future. It displays they are willing to interrogate themselves and their ways, and that there is more change to come. I commend Toledo for going against his own grain and pushing boundaries. Making A Door Less Open is a great record that I believe, in time, will act as a transitional artifact.

Record Collector
Experimentation and drive have clearly been key here. Hats off to Will Toledo and co for swimming in new oceans when, with talent like theirs, they could have trod water for years and still been better than most.
Q Magazine

Stretching his creative wings has worked for Toledo; there's a sense of him pushing outward as well as forward, even as he questions the point of it all.


Without ironing out his early-Beck-ish quirks, MADLO's higher-fi moves demand wider attention.

Under The Radar

The indiscriminate approach makes for a disorienting listen and a scattershot presentation makes it feel like less of a holistic artistic statement than the band’s previous albums. However, it is exciting to see the band going in a bold new direction, and there are plenty of strong tracks here.

Consequence of Sound

An interesting bunt that adds color and flavor to an intriguing sound, Making a Door Less Open is a classic transitional album, which they may double back from and they may double down on; frankly, either result will be more exciting.


Will Toledo has a special talent, creating engaging narratives that provide a unique perspective to the human experience. Not every venture into new genres is a success, but this is the product of a thoroughly meticulous mind, constantly tinkering with song structure and new ideas.


Making a Door Less Open ultimately sounds like an entertaining experiment, a test of Car Seat Headrest's malleability and potential for new directions.

No Ripcord
With all of the grand but empty ambitions, stylistic question marks, and underwritten but solid songs, Car Seat Headrest is still too smart, too catchy, too excellent to make this album worth shrugging off completely. At the soul of this occasionally soulless album, Toledo’s longing, emptiness, and hope still rings true.
Radical intentions, mixed results...
Rolling Stone

Even when Making a Door Less Open gets a little clunky, it remains compelling.

Crack Magazine

Across the record, Car Seat Headrest find a way to grow further into their potential as a bonafide ‘big’ rock band. It’s heartening that they’ve been able to do it by leaning further into what makes them a stranger prospect than most.


It feels more like a bedroom project than their recent full-band work, yet Toledo's knack for an irresistible chorus endures.


Making a Door Less Open would inevitably benefit from a willingness to risk spectacular failure.

The Guardian
There’s something scattered and awkward about its grafting together of ideas that don’t gel; the sound of a band who have outgrown their initial incarnation but aren’t quite sure what they want now.

Making a Door Less Open isn’t as memorable as its predecessors on its own: Toledo’s vision as a whole never feels truly fleshed out, representing the first legitimate misfire in the career of one of this generation’s most talented indie-rock songwriters.

The Telegraph
They offer up an attractive fusion of melody and groove, with Toledo’s smart, self-probing lyrics set against a taut mix of atmospheric electronica and treated guitars over mechanised beats.
The Observer

The indie maverick is a purveyor of all styles on his studiously eclectic 12th album.


This is a mixed bag, and is – unfortunately – a bit of a momentum killer.

FLOOD Magazine

This is far from a perfect record, and will likely leave some listeners disappointed ... But there’s a difference between disappointment and disgust. Even the moments that don’t work perfectly are inflected with the kind of Toledoisms you really can’t get anywhere else.


The finished project is a departure from the guitar-dominated albums of CSH past, more space instead being given to synths and drum machines to provide the backing for Toledo’s consistently witty and observational lyricism.

The Needle Drop

Car Seat Headrest's latest album is an unfortunate case of untapped potential.

Spectrum Culture

Making a Door Less Open goes out of its way to obscure the notion of Car Seat Headrest as a manifestation of Toledo’s life and emotions.

Don't worry Pitchfork. Your indie darlings aren't dead just yet.

I don't really have a lot to say on Car Seat Headrest, weirdly enough. While I admittedly haven't had the chance to listen much the the pre-label records Car Seat Headrest have put out on Bandcamp (due to pure laziness on my part honestly), I've always been fascinated by this group. The last two records Will Toledo has put out have obviously been two of the greatest and influential rock records of the 2010s, with Twin Fantasy ... read more
Making A Doof Less Happy 😔
underneath a synth-pop mask,
will toledo helps reinvent CSH’s sound and cement their uniqueness.
its good okay its fucking good shut up its good i swear to god it's a good album alright
The dreaded moment.

This is the moment when we will have to take risks, when we will have to get out of our comfort zone. That moment when an artist we have long appreciated, and whose work is really dear to us on AOTY, even essential to our lives, throws everything overboard, and sets out again in a completely different direction. This moment when the fan in us admires the courage of the artist, but still regrets a little/a lot/passionately the unequalled sensations of yesteryear.

Will ... read more
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Added on: February 26, 2020