Monday, 3 April 2017

Album Review: Retainer by Taco Hell (by Emma Prew)

Taco Hell are a four-piece punk band from Nottingham that describe their sound as dreamo punk. Last month they released a 6-track EP called Retainer on Exeter-based Circle House Records and, intrigued by the band’s amusing name and ‘dreamo’ description, I eagerly took a listen.

The first song, My Mother Wouldn’t Approve, is a short one at only 34 seconds long but that’s okay because it is 34 seconds of relatable lyrical content – well, at least some of it is for me. Vocalist and guitarist Joe shouts the opening line,I don't really like people, but I have to speak to them.’ It’s angry, it’s raw and it leads nicely into the second track which is titled Palaeontology (Happy Birthday David Schwimmer), a song that doesn’t really have anything to do with David Schwimmer but apparently it was written on his birthday so there you go. The song begins with some sweet jangly indie-style guitar, before bassist Eleanor lends her voice to the lyrics. She has a far softer and smoother sounding voice than Joe which works well with the guitar melody. It’s great that after just two songs, there is a lot of variety – and I like both sides of Taco Hell shown so far.

Hold The Door is the third track on Retainer, which is not a Game of Thrones reference (as far as I’m aware). This is quite a self-deprecating song if ever I’ve heard one but it’s also so full of emotion. Joe sings the first verse – ‘I know that I'm selfish, And I hate it. I know that I'm worthless, There's no need to say it. But I don't think that I can leave here without you. And I don't think that I can dream as high as you do.’ – and you can feel his pain. That’s good songwriting. Towards the end of the track, Eleanor and Joe take turns in singing lines which is a really nice addition to the song. Next up is a song called Wait For Me. This song has definitely got that dreamy, or dreamo, feel that Taco Hell describe themselves as having. With slightly echoey guitars and vocals, I want to say that it’s almost a little eerie – but in a good way. The lyrics are quite minimal which is interesting for a not overly short song – ‘Walking, Crawling, Behind the shadow of your silhouette. Just leave me, Believe me, I don't know why.’ There is an excellent extended guitar solo ending though.

The penultimate track is called Baby Teeth and is anxiety-fuelled song. The chorus, although about one of those dreams that you have about your teeth falling out which clearly means your head is full of worries and perhaps dealing with some sort of loss, is surprisingly catchy. ‘Last night I had a dream that all my teeth fell out of my mouth, Onto the ground. Last night I had a dream that all my teeth fell out of my mouth, Couldn't make a sound.’ It’s probably my favourite song on the EP and that chorus is guaranteed to get lodged in your head – it did with me anyway. The last track on Retainer is Cheesy Chips. It’s actually the first song that I listened to when I checked out the Taco Hell on Bandcamp, because of the title – who doesn’t like cheesy chips after all. Cheesy Chips is a nostalgic little song about going home after several years away and how it feels stranger than it once did. Plus eating chips and cheese, presumably after a night out in said hometown. The exchange between Joe singing ‘This is not forever,’ and Eleanor singing ‘It’s now or never.’ is a lovely end to the song and the EP as whole.

You can stream, download and buy tapes of Retainer from Taco Hell’s Bandcamp page.

And like Taco Hell on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.