It’s never been easier to simultaneously love and loathe Seattle. It’s a place that’s progressive, loaded with culture, active, big without feeling oppressive, and drop dead gorgeous when the sun peaks out from behind the clouds. On the other hand, rapid corporate expansion has left many feeling like the city is losing some of its charm and turning into a soulless San Francisco 2.0; a place where all the people that made the city cool in the first place get culturally whitewashed and priced out of living here. These sentiments are especially prevalent among the city’s creative class: the artists, makers, and performers. Tacocat’s latest LP Lost Time captures this Seattle moment’s mindset. Over the course of 12 blissed out and pissed off pop punk tracks, the quartet celebrates its hometown, decries its faults with feminist zeal, welcomes its inevitable doom, and gets lost in the worlds of the weirdos that make it unique.
Tacocat sketches out its core hometown beliefs in two unambiguously Seattle anthems: “I Hate the Weekend” and “I Love Seattle.” “I Hate the Weekend” doesn’t decry the titular section of the week, but rather focuses its ire at the yuppie bro and broette culture that started invading Capitol Hill every weekend over the course of the past few years (“At the end of every week / they flood into our streets / homogenized and oh so bleak / Got a hall-pass from your job / just to act like a fucking slob”). On the opposite side of the coin, “I Love Seattle” draws inspiration from the doomsday earthquake proclamations of The New Yorker’s much buzzed about article, “The Really Big One.” Rather than wallowing in dismay over our impending destruction, the band turns the situation into an expression of positivity and unflinching love for their city. Emily Nokes serves as the captain bravely going down with her ship as she sweetly sings, “Ooohh beautiful Seattle / Aaaahh fall into the sea / Earthquake, tsunami / There’s still no place I’d rather be.”
When crafting Lost Time's sound, Tacocat stayed local and enlisted producer Erik Blood. Compared to the group’s excellent previous album NVM, Lost Time sports a much sleeker and more refined production style. There’s an elevated crispness to Lelah Maupin’s drum tones, sheen and tightness to Eric Randall’s guitar riffs, and a deeper rumble to Bree McKenna’s bass lines. It’s hard to imagine a song like “Talk”—with its danceable darkness and hypnotic hand claps—sounding as mysteriously intriguing without Blood behind the board. On the other hand, Lost Time’s general polish sometimes acts as a marginal deterrent. “FDP” (First Day Period), the aggressively cross spiritual successor to the poppy menstrual surf rock jam “Crimson Wave” (and sister song to “UTI”), could actually use a little more lo-fi rawness to match the song’s sentiment, but taking it in that direction would’ve disrupted the sonic cohesion of the album as a whole.
While less Seattle specific, group’s general feminist frustrations and riot grrrl anger shine through via “Men Explain Things to Me” and “Internet.” A roundabout sequel to “Hey Girl,” “Men Explain Things to Me” targets the condescending idiocy of mansplaining as Nokes delivers the vocal eye rolling those dudes deserve. “The Internet” dismisses the loathsome trolls of the world (wide web) that anonymously “hate from the basement” while adding “nothing of value.”
But Tacocat simply loves having fun too much to stay vitriolic the whole time. The band taps into its collective obsessive creative nerdiness with odes to the X-Files’s sci-fi feminist icon on “Dana Katherine Scully” and salutes little girls with pony obsessions on “Horse Girls.” (Side note: Considering Tacocat entered the cartoon universe by performing the new Powerpuff Girls theme song, it almost makes too much sense for Tina Belcher to sneak out to see the band play “Horse Girls” on an episode of Bob’s Burgers. Paging Loren Bouchard.) The final rebellion against modern Seattle comes by embracing a carefree life; one that isn’t obsessed with growth, expansion, and working to get ahead. While the rest of the world grinds away, Tacocat finds contentment being “Leisure Bees” (“The world is a hive, work hard until you die / But who is your queen, and is it worth the grey routine?) that would rather be sneaking into places they don’t belong for a little “Night Swimming.”
Seattle is changing. It’ll keep changing. Hopefully there will always be a place for people like Tacocat to add colorful flair to the city and keep Seattle at least a little bit strange.