Tacocat, rather charmingly, describe themselves as, “four actual best friends.” The quarter consist of singer and tambourinist Emily Nokes, guitarist Eric Randall, drummer Lelah Maupin , and bass-player Bree McKenna. Their most recent album was produced by Erik Blood, a man Tacocat describe as, “a beautiful wizard.”
Pop-Punk or Indie-Pop or Grunge-Pop or Post-Emo (credit to the latter goes to Lauren Laverne who used it to describe We Are Scientists.) Whatever you want to call Tacocat, they’re a band who deal in rapid-fire guitar thrashing, vocals somewhere between yelping and shouting, and very bounceable drum beats. The whole sound is unquestionably born out of an appreciation for both pure pop and noisy grunge, You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit has shades of The Everly Brothers, whilst the Internet is a poppier take on Nirvana, and recent single Talk recalls the melancholic beauty of Pretty Girls Make Graves.
Tacocat are from the fertile musical fields of Seattle, Washington. The largest city in the Pacific North-West, Seattle has been inhabited in some form for the best part of 4000 years, and lifts its name from Chief Si’ahl, a leader of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes who occupied the area prior to European “settlers”. Known as The Emerald City, The Gateway To Alaska, and Rain City, Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, due at least in part to it’s links to aircraft manufacturing and technology. Seattle has a mighty impressive musical history, in particular grunge which sprung up around the Sub Pop label at the turn of the 1990’s; the city has also inspired songs by the likes of Jeffrey Lewis, Public Image Limited, and Mark Knopfler, all three tracks were imaginatively entitled Seattle.
Tacocat first met when they were all in their late teens and early twenties, and became a band around eight years ago. They released their debut album, Shame Spiral, back in 2010 via Don’t Stop Believin’ Records. They came to many more people’s attention with 2014’s NVM their first release for Hardly Art, who also released their latest album Lost Time earlier this month.
Tacocat have sprung out of Seattle’s currently productive feminist punk scene, but as they’re, quite rightly, quick to point out, they want to move away entirely from the idea of female bands and move into an age when there are only bands. Yes they speak about issues that affect women, but as over half the world are women they’re not niche concepts, they’re just issues that affect people as a whole. By bringing gender into the foreground the band have sort of neutralised it entirely, as the press release states, “this isn’t lady stuff, it’s people stuff. It’s normal. It’s nothing and everything. It’s life. ”
What their most recent album Lost Time does incredibly successfully is to take political issues and substantive themes, and make them fun. This is an album that says, yes there are problems in the world, yes there is inequality, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a lot of fun making light of how ridiculous it all is. It’s music without any sort of inferiority complex or self-consciousness, it’s music that is fun and music that is funny. Take the excellent La Tigre-like Plan A, Plan B; on the one hand it hints at the theme of abortion and the morning after pill, but mainly its about wanting to be free to sleep with whoever you want and not being judged for that. Elsewhere, The Internet takes aim at trolls, and paints the world wide web as a place with, “no conversation, only vitriol”, whilst Men Explain Things To Me takes a solid kick at the patriarchy and male-privilege, “this land is your land in the palm of your hand, I’ll walk around so you can stand, you’re in my way everyday” and ultimately concludes, “the turning point is overdue.”
Elsewhere on the record there’s some delightfully uncomplicated numbers, sometimes it sounds like Tacocat are just literally emptying their heads onto the record. Horse Grrl seems to actually be about girls that are keen on horses, I Love Seattle is a response to the predicted demise of Seattle at the hands of a natural disaster, “earthquake, tsunami, there’s still no place I’d rather be”, whilst Night Swimming is about the simple joy of hitting the beach when nobody else is around, even if it does take a slight swipe at the cliché of playing REM whilst you’re taking to the ocean.
Best of all is I Hate The Weekend, it takes aim at the live-for-the-weekend brigade who descend upon their neighbourhood, and end up at “the end of every week, you’re screaming in our street.” It sounds joyous, with it’s unforgettable four word chorus, and razor sharp guitar hooks, but ultimately it’s just asking the world to be a touch more considerate, and we can’t argue with that.
Closing track Leisure Bee’s is incredibly catchy but it’s hard to escape the fact it sounds like The Banana Splits theme tune, and for us personally, a song dedicated to their favourite X-Files character, Dana Katherine Scully is perhaps a step too far into singing whatever’s in your head. That said as this is the band who are sound-tracking the re-boot of The Power Puff Girls, maybe Tacocat just like TV a little more than we do.
Lost Time is out now via Hardly Art Records. Tacocat tour the UK in May, click HERE for details.