By Jamie McNamara
The city of Seattle is having somewhat of a cultural renaissance as of late. The riot grrrl movement has been made a significant mark on the younger generation and bands like Chastity Belt, La Luz and Boyfriend are leading the charge with politically motivated, but not overtly political, pop-leaning guitar music that reflects changing attitudes about feminism.
Arguably the most important band to the new scene in Seattle is Tacocat and their breezy, bubblegum brand of pop music. Like many of their peers, Tacocat’s music is sarcastic and sonically simplistic, but that simplicity serves a purpose. Tacocat’s third album Lost Time, succeeds in its ability to make feminist ideas the main focus of their music in an unapologetic and down-to-earth manner.
Tacocat’s musical formula has stayed largely similar since 2014’s NVM. Vocalist Emily Nokes sings about Plan B, Internet trolls, and mansplaining with the inflection of a jaded 20-something. Bolstering her are fellow bandmates Bree McKenna, Eric Randall and Lelah Maupin who play a melodic blend of surf-infused rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a simple formula, but it serves the band well.
The album’s title comes from a phenomenon experienced by those who’ve had close encounters of the third kind, specifically sourced from The X-Files. The reference is more than just a nod to a cult favourite: the show’s counter-cultural commentary and all-too-rare presentation of a strong female lead fit perfectly with Tacocat’s own aesthetic. They even named a track in honour of Agent Dana Scully.
On that song and the rest of the album, producer Erik Blood’s presence pays off in full. Lost Time sounds cleaner, with less emphasis on fuzz and more focus on keeping things lean. The songs never over stay their welcome; in fact, only one song on the album actually cracks the three-minute mark. They are brief and to-the-point, the product of a band that knows exactly what it wants to say.
It’s that laser focus for displeasure that makes Lost Time such a treat to listen to. “The Internet” is a rollicking attack of Internet trolls, a simple topic executed expertly. “Your place is so low, human mosquito,” Nokes sings with a melodic yowl not unlike Corrine Tucker, but with less palpable rage and more apathetic disappointment.
That cultural disappointment reappears on the album’s second single “Talk.” It’s a taut, moody ballad that sounds like a cross between Blondie and Sleater-Kinney. The chorus features Nokes’ voice blown out to its emotional zenith as she laments the death of face-to-face interaction. It’s the most serious song on the album, but it doesn’t feel out of place sandwiched between Tacocat’s jauntier work.
Lost Time often has a ragged energy, never is it more audible than the melodic blast “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit.” It’s a no-nonsense send off to a lover who tried to make the first step in ending a relationship. It’s full of ingenuous putdowns, the kind that sting under the surface and attack a person’s character directly. Tacocat are masters of talking people down in an unpretentious manner. It makes their lyrical arguments sound so convincing and common sense.
The next time you hear someone disparaging feminism for being a collective of bra-burning, man-hating women, give them a copy of Lost Time. If they can’t find something to enjoy, you can be sure they’re a lost cause.Lost Time, Tacocat