Tacocat is politically optimistic on ‘This Mess is a Place’

This Mess is a Place

SubPop Records · May 3, 2019

Tacocat is jaded. They woke up one morning in November 2016 to a presidential candidate, very different from the one they expected, winning the American presidency. And now, they just want to be done with everything that’s happened since.

The opener to the Seattle girl-punk band’s fourth studio release, This Mess is a Place, “Hologram,” is a reassurance to themselves that things are going to be okay because “Power’s just a hologram.” Right after that, on “New World,” singer Emily Nokes imagines what would happen if she woke up and everything was not just fine, but great, with no jobs, no responsibilities, and of course, no parking tickets.

The album is different from Tacocat’s previous releases, in that it’s more serious: its bubblegum guitars can’t completely mask the intense apathy that its lyrics describe, as well as their political disappointment. That being said, This Mess is a Place still has the required silly songs that the band is known for, with “Little Friend” as a raw ode to the loyalty of a beloved pet, and “Meet Me at La Palma” as a cute, retro-vibey ode to getting drunk on “seven dollar margaritas that are bigger than your head” while dancing the foxtrot at a neon-lit bar.

Other high points on the album include “Grains of Salt,” a surf-punk bop about putting aside the norm,ending with the iconic line, “Don’t forget to remember who the fuck you are;” “Crystal Ball,” which layers up instruments from a muted start for an energetic chorus sums up the same apathy from before, but with respect to heartbreak; and “Rose-Colored Sky,” the most melodic and metaphoric piece on the album, wonders what it’s like to be on top in a man’s world.

While there are definite high points to the record, the rest of it tends to blend together, as it consists of the same prominent features – grating guitars and nasally, punk vocals – from the band’s earlier releases. That isn’t to say that those songs aren’t good – they just don’t stand out in Tacocat’s discography or even on the album itself.

This Mess is a Place is a great album, and it puts a cleaner, shinier finish on the music that already made Tacocat great. It rocks out in exactly the way we need right now: pretending like it doesn’t care, but letting that spark of optimism still shine through to the outside.

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