This Place is a Mess
Album Review by Sheldon Hubbard
Tacocat is more than just a popular palindrome and meme of a lifetime, it is a peachy punk rock band from the Seattle area. After cycling through what material I could find of theirs on YouTube and Spotify, they, themselves are the best ones to describe their sound through their bios: “funny, deliriously catchy feminist pop-punk…” This is the basis for their fun, sarcastic, and downright contagious sound that only rings true throughout the tracks of their latest release, This Mess is a Place.
My initial impression of this band was rooted in remembering how much fun I had at Vans Warped Tour walking by the stages. I discovered quirky pop-punk bands that were genuine with their emotions and not afraid to get you moving while moving your heart (and hopefully your mind). Tacocat is much like a version of Echosmith where they have the spirit and energy of a band like Forever the Sickest Kids, except cooler and snarkier. With a debut album dropping almost ten years ago and an extensive touring background, stretching from places like Boston to Berlin and Barcelona to "The Big Easy," it seems they are no strangers to a life of friendship and musicianship.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about getting familiar with this band was listening to This Mess is a Place, working my way backwards through their discography, then climbing back up the ladder. You can really hear the establishment and progression of their sound as they grow more familiar with how to integrate sounds from one another in order to create a vibrant and authentic listening experience. Take Me to Your Dealer is a short blast of kooky angst that couldn’t help but remind me of a sound Bikini Kill would be proud of. NVM answers that sound and continues to lay the bricks of Tacocat’s foundational sound (that beachy, funny feminist pop-punk). Lost Time breaks through with a cohesive development that brings about a sense of maturity to Tacocat’s niche sound. We then move to the aforementioned, This Mess is a Place, which finds the band keeping their roots intact while presenting a fresh look into how they’ve been finding themselves in this tart, poppy sound wave they surfed in on over ten years ago.
The tracks that stood out the most are “The Joke of Life,” and “Meet Me at La Palma,” because they represent the two sides of authenticity I really think this band is about. The former seems to speak to how weird it is that you can still laugh at things in life while you know that there are aspects of life that are far beyond being humorous. The sounds on this track play tribute to what it is like to spend a day at the beach with your most fun-loving, cynical pals. The latter is bright and redolent of going out with your friends and recollecting where you’ve gone and what you’ve seen in the world. By the flow and movement of the album, I feel that this song should have been the final track. It really feels like you’re “tying one off,” after being here, there, and everywhere.
In all, this mess we call life is certainly is a place and our role in it has to stand for something. This album left me with the sense that you DO have the power to stand up against entitlement and mistreatment of others. Even if you are going to laugh about some of those situations in the future, you are laughing because you couldn’t believe you actually let it out. You are proud of it, and you laugh because you are humbled by who you’ve become - an ever-evolving version of yourself. Someone who knows how to have fun, tries to be nice to people. You Just want to live your life while you have it and there’s not a damn thing you can say about it (kitty cat winky emoji). I don’t see myself listening to this band extensively, but their “deliriously catchy” tunes do weave in and out of the stream of music that lives in my head. I have also noticed myself passing them towards people’s way; from my wife to old Warped Tour buddies, and every punk-spirited human being I may find in between. All I need to say in order to hook their interest is: “Tacocat.”