Tacocat, "Grains of Salt" (Sub Pop)
Seattle's Tacocat have been ascending steadily over their 12-year tenure; now they've graduated from Hardly Art to Sub Pop, and everything feels right about this. Their excellently titled This Mess Is a Place (out May 3) was produced by Stranger Genius Erik Blood (he did the last one, 2016's Lost Time, too). After one listen to this, their fourth full-length, you can tell that he and Tacocat have added more glam-rock bravado and intensified their rhythmic punch while not totally abandoning their winsome pop-punk charms. You can imagine This Mess soundtracking a lot of young people's spring/summer adventures—maybe even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's.
Singer and former Stranger music editor Emily Nokes still sounds like a cool older sister dispensing sage advice and keen observations in a voice that radiates an inspirational pragmatism. Her smoove, multi-layered backing harmonies shine, too, raising goosebumps on key tracks such as "Hologram," "New World," and the Bangles-esque "The Joke of Life." Not sure where Tacocat can go from playing a Bernie Sanders rally at Safeco Stadium, but it's probably to an even loftier level with the promo might of Sub Pop behind them and a gleaming, irrepressible new record in the can.
First single "Grains of Salt" sounds like Tacocat's most club-friendly track to date, with Eric Randall's guitar sparking flinty funk riffs, bassist Bree McKenna and drummer Lelah Maupin's tough rhythmic churn, and a surprising synth solo elevating things to hand-raising-anthem status. Nokes sweetly implores us to "Don't forget to remember who the fuck you are" in a song that's destined to enter a lot of people's self-care regimens. In the press release, Nokes describes "Grains of Salt" as a song "for roller skating, friendship, self friendship, yes and no doubt, turning it off, running up and down that hill, leaving gross stuff behind, landing the backflip, imposter syndrome, being your own genie, and remembering who the fuck you are."