When Seattle pop-punk band Tacocat woke up the day after the 2016 election, they felt the way millions of others did: horrified, scared, and downright angry. But unlike most people, they responded by writing an album about it-and we’re so grateful they did. With latest release This Mess is a Place, Tacocat leans into their anger and frustration, crafting a fierce, cathartic album that sings truth to power.
The quartet has never been one to shy away from politics in their music; in fact, they came onto the Seattle scene in 2007 as unapologetic feminists, when such a label was particularly taboo. But This Mess is a Place is different. From the start, Tacocat’s fourth album inspects politics and social justice with a more dedicated nuance than the lighter songs of their past. From the exploration of systemic oppression in “Rose-Colored Sky” to detailing invisible societal hierarchies in “Hologram,” Tacocat forges an impressively bolder activist voice than previous releases. Of course, for a band named Tacocat, levity is inevitable. Lead vocalist Emily Nokes describes the album’s range:
“We can examine some hard stuff, make fun of some evil stuff, feel some soft feelings, feel some rage feelings, feel some bitter-ass feelings, sift through memories, feel wavy-existential, and still go get a banana daiquiri at the end.”
The album opens with one of Tacocat’s strongest performances, “Hologram.” A bouncy, irresistible guitar groove leads into a thumping drum beat and Nokes’s distinctly punk, subtly nasal vocals. Where “Hologram” explores the disillusionment of living under oppressive structures, “New World” imagines what a more perfect reality could be. The two lead songs set a clear musical flavor for the album: vibrant surf-meets-punk rock melodies, blistering lyrics, and unapologetic attitude. Even with the emphasis on the political, the album remains dynamic. Ending the album are “Meet Me at La Palma” and “Miles and Miles,” allowing the quartet to end on a more hopeful, yet still bittersweet note.
This Mess is a Place is the perfect album for the moment. Tacocat draws from the inherent rebellion of its punk roots to amplify the voices of a population left disillusioned and angry, and the result is stunning. Equal parts explosive, pensive, and hopeful, This Mess is a Place is everything we need from music right now.