Let’s just get it out of the way: Tacocat are not a band for all moods. Granted, this can be said of more or less everything, ever, but the Seattle four-piece punk band really, really aim at a specific setting. As much as their wink of a band name and song titles such as ‘The Joke of Life’ (not to mention its nearly hedonistic video) may paint the band as borderline nihilistic, in reality, Tacocat couldn’t be more earnest. To say the least, their songs feel a lot. When singer Emily Nokes frets, “Not so long ago, I used to feel like / I was too sensitive to be alive / but maybe now it's the opposite,” with the album’s opening lines on ‘Hologram’, it’s easy enough to relate, and sets the stage for the early midlife crisis that forms the band’s fourth album, This Mess is a Place.

As Tacocat’s first album with Sub Pop, the band seized the bigger platform to further perfect their sound, each song here more jangily catchy (see the winding instrumentation and harmonies of 'Miles and Miles'), if perhaps somewhat streamlined, than ever before.

That said, the album’s genesis comes from a decidedly grim place. Following the 2016 election, the band had come to feel evil no longer stuck to the shadows, instead stretching its maw in broad daylight, comfortably arranging its agenda across an increasingly frightened, persecuting world.

Their response, naturally, seems to have been doubling down on the good times, all the while keeping the grim state of things beyond the dive bars they were playing or partying in the back of their minds. It results in an intoxicating mixture of fear and delight. Trudging back the opening song, the band seems to have found some solace in the simplest, yet never acknowledged by those with it, of truths: “Power is a hologram.” With a babbling madman sinking the free world into ever deeper waters, it may seem small comfort, but for the near 33 minutes spent in Tacocat’s world here, things don’t seem all so bad, or, at the least, tolerable.

Your mileage with This Mess is a Place may indeed vary, but more than anything, if you’ve had a lousy, or dull, day, it’s sure to jump start your tired mind into grinning goofily with its sugary, determinedly peppy rush. Take as your healthcare professional recommends.