Because its sophomore record, NVM, packed together upbeat tracks about menstruation and catcalling, Tacocat is a feminist band. Really, because three of its members are women and they happen to occasionally express an acerbic viewpoint, the four-piece is essentially a riot-grrrl revival act. Sound like silly, knee-jerk label-plastering? Well, it is, and those who listen to Lost Time through this artificially narrow lens will look past the lighthearted pleasures right there for the taking.
Lost Time is first and foremost a peppy, easy-going surf-punk record about science fiction (the apparent reference in “Dana Katherine Scully” to time loss in The X-Files supplies the album’s title), unexpected breakups, birth control, the apocalypse, and other assorted topics that likely just happen to be occasionally discussed among the band’s members. The songs are simple and instantly catchy, fuller in sound than their previous work and fueled by prominent percussion that’s been moved to the forefront. It all comes together on smart-alecky highlight “I Hate The Weekend, ” which laments the recurring drunken shitshow that binge-drinking nightlife commuters bring to their hometown Seattle (“Got a hall pass from your job / Just to act like a fucking slob… The working stiff / With a two-day fun permit / Let loose like your life depends on it”), as embossed guitars hammer out an unflappable beach-rock rhythm and doo-wop harmonies flutter overtop. It’s all just a smidge bigger and just a drop deeper, but enough to complete the 90-percent-baked approach of NVM.
Droll mockery heaped on various targets is the icing on this sneer-pop cake. On the grunge-flecked, anthemic “The Internet,” frontwoman Emily Nokes, in a vocal run over lilting guitars, derisively asks online trolls, “What face do you have?” A few tracks later, “Horse Grrls” deploys a hybrid of rippling blues-rock and rapid, heavy chord pounding in taking aim at privileged equine-obsessed teenagers.
It’s clear from prior Tacocat songs that Nokes is also irked by self-absorbed and condescending dudes, and she has a thorough go at mansplaining with “Men Explain Things To Me” (named after the Rebecca Solnit essay that led to the term). So, is this evidence of that larger underlying gender-equality message? Aren’t they still doing that “Men Who Rock” series parodying how the media portrays women musicians? And what about the fact that the band recently recorded a theme song for the new Powerpuff Girls reboot?
Sure, those looking to fit the band within the framework of a modern women’s-lib movement can do so without too much difficulty (and Tacocat itself plays it both ways, simultaneously embracing and disclaiming the characterization in its press materials), but it ultimately seems like a needless enterprise. For one, it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) interesting that a band that’s 75 percent female would write music with a female perspective. Better instead to take Lost Time at face value and join in the fun.