Seattle-based Tacocat return with their third album, Lost Time, a fun and memorable record full of great hooks and bright production that speaks to the experience of the uncertainty and listless of emerging adulthood.
Nostalgia is a powerful force that shapes our lives. It’s a force whose presence can be felt most profoundly in the art we produce. As an undergrad, I took a class my freshman year on the history of popular music in the '70s and '80s (as well as smidgeon of music from the first half of the '90s strongly influenced by stylistic forebears). It was a life-changing course, because the music of that era fragments and branches off into so many different genres. My professor suggested that culture moved in 20-year cycles: birth, ridicule and rebirth. There’s certainly ample evidence to support that. Happy Days, The Wonder Years, and That '70s Show are just a few that dusted off the sensibilities and aesthetics of decades prior.
The '90s were 20 years ago and are major touchstones for people my age and younger, probably because it was the last time many of us felt like we had a hopeful future. Tacocat uses that nostalgia as a way of engaging with the concerns and reality of 20-somethings and 30-somethings, whether it’s a popular character from a cult '90s show or working a shitty service job that necessitates giving up leisurely weekends or being a woman on the internet and all the harassment and general nastiness that involves. Lost Time is an honest and heartfelt record, never shying away from a feminist viewpoint, but it’s also tremendously fun, like shooting the shit with some close friends over a beer or two. “Dana Katherine Scully” is a loving tribute to the coolest character on The X-Files. Gillian Anderson’s Special Agent Scully was smart, competent and no-nonsense. Many of my generation aspire to be like her, but are probably closer to David Duchovny’s Agent Mulder. Growing up in the '90s, I found The X-Files too terrifying to watch, but I was aware of the show mostly through promotional ads and “The Springfield Files” episode of The Simpsons.
“FDP” mines similar territory as “Crimson Wave”, the song that introduced me to Tacocat. Both are refreshingly honest with clever turns of phrase, and it’s a nice change of pace to treat periods as a perfectly natural thing rather than a shameful and taboo act.
“I Hate the Weekend” is a song that rings painfully true for anyone who has spent their Friday nights and Saturdays working a service job. One starts to resent the seemingly more successful people who come in and have a regular schedule. Not that there aren’t joys to working service, it’s a good source for weird stories and having good coworkers can make all the difference. As Marlowe said, “It is a comfort to the wretched to have companions in misery.” Of course Marlowe was talking about hell instead of the lunch rush, but customer service does bear a resemblance to the underworld at times. It should be noted the author is only familiar with that quote because of its use in an issue of Sandman .
When an album is described as rewarding repeated listens, typically that means forcing yourself to listen to something until you like it. The author is still trying to determine whether he likes Trout Mask Replica or not or whether this might merely be a case of emperor’s new clothes. When it comes to Tacocat’s Lost Time the reward to repeated listens is further appreciation of the clever, relatable lyrics. It’s an instantly likable record, buoyed by work of producer Erik Blood who imparts a really bright sheen on the band’s sound.
Lost Time is the perfect record to put on when you’re day drinking and have fallen down the rabbit hole of YouTube seeking out '90s NBA highlights and commercials. It’s, for my money, one of the most enjoyable and fun albums of 2016 so far.