Tacocat, Lost Time, Hardly Art Records
The Seattle quartet have been around since 2007, releasing their debut album, Shame Spiral (Don’t Stop Believin’ Records) in 2010, eventually gaining wider exposure in 2014 with the release of their second LP NVM (Hardly Art). During that time they became bizarrely embroiled in a controversial situation involving Katy Perry and shark costumes, and were asked to record the theme song for the new reboot of The Powerpuff Girls, a finer choice there could not be. Now, at long last, they’re back with their third LP to date which is a rollicking, yet blurry, affair.
Bet you didn’t think you needed a summery, 60s tinged ode reminiscent of Jonathan Richman‘s ‘Parties in the USA’, to the best character in The X Files? After hearing ‘Dana Katherine Scully’, you’ll realize that this yearning has been satiated. It’s impossible not to be instantly drawn in and crack a grin at the band’s feminist commentary seen through the perspective of Dana Scully, forever the lone lady in the room asking ‘why’ when the men keep wanting to believe (and having to argue for an equal salary to boot). That is, unless you’re, like, an alien or something.
Gaining a reputation for a sharp and witty sense of humour, in a vein similar to equally snarky Seattle-based feminists Chastity Belt, they use this rapier as a way of navigating the basic shittiness of the day-to-day mundanity, all the while catching some bitchin’ waves of feminist surf pop along the way.
There is a marked similarity to early aughts grrrl power surf punk band, All Girl Summer Fun Band, and the same pitfalls that snagged them are also shared. Several tracks ( ‘FDP’, ‘I Love Seattle’ and ‘I Hate the Weekend’, namely) are hard to distinguish as all share relatively the same tempo with not enough variation and singularity to stand alone. It is frustrating to see a band so observant and on point such as Tacocat stay relatively safe. They are at their strongest when they burst through glass ceilings like the Kool Aid Man in a Saturday morning commercial interlude.
However, ‘The Internet’, makes up for things. Perfectly taking on anonymous Internet haters, who are pictured as pathetic beta males spewing vitriol from their basement lairs, they liken them to annoying mosquitos. ‘Plan A, Plan B’ provides some welcome bite, fighting back against the tired narrative offered up by the Republican party that women use the morning after pill as a form of contraception. ‘Talk’ also packs a heftier punch, voicing Millennial angst at social situations marred by screen staring addiction and a lack of here-and-now engagement. “I want to talk/Talk until my throat hurts,” vocalist Emily Nokes beseeches.
The second half of the album carries much more meat on its bones, falling less into tonal conventions than the hard-to-distinguish first half of the record. ‘Men Explain Things To Me’ and ‘Horse Grrls’ are excitingly varied, full of the wonderful, witty observations that characterize prime Tacocat material.
While not a disappointing album whatsoever (nothing this fun could ever be considered a disappointment), in order to kick it up from fun to brilliance, Tacocat need to see through their safe spaces to proceed onto the craggy peaks that they are capable of reaching, then jumping down to the sea below to make the splash that would do them justice.