TACOCAT

Lost Time (Hardly Art)

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To paraphrase William Shakespeare, some bands are born pop-punk, some achieve pop-punkness, and some have pop-punkness thrust upon them. There's something about the form, consecrated between the poles of the original Nuggets compilation and the Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP, that makes it equally available to all young bands to pour themselves into, allowing individual expression to emerge in the context of a familiar set of sounds, structures, and rules.

In the case of Tacocat, the familiarity of melodic pop songs cut with some element of punk something has been a massively useful framework for containing the humor, creativity, and expressive zeal that explodes out of the band's every gesture like thermal energy out of sparklers.

If their 2014 album NVM found their songs catching up with their band-ness, the new record, Lost Time, shows them taking the essential next step of allowing their grasp of the punky pop song form to get a little looser, weirder, more eccentric. The songs ("Dana Katherine Scully," "FDP") are mega catchy, of course, and funny ("Men Explain Things to Me," "Horse Girls"), duh, but the eccentricity is most blazingly evident in the super-distinctive vocal melodies, which loop-de-loop around Emily Nokes's lower register like a stunt pilot. They work as hooks, but in the least obvious way.

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The unobviousness leads them into new terrain, like the song "Talk," which deals with emotional breakdown (and possibly OCD or speed benders) with a depth that's (uh) deepened by the low curlicues of melody through which the manic refrain "Together, together, alone / Stay true, true to your phone" snake.

Despite and because of this ambition, when the band comes together for the undeniably anthemic chorus of the pro-apocalypse should've-been-a-hit-on-120-Minutes-in-1995 "I Love Seattle"—the perfect score for a tourism commercial the city would never have the nerve to commission ("Earthquake, tsunami, there's still no place I'd rather be")—you feel all the more excited to sing along. recommended