Now comes the third album from Rosie Tucker, ‘Sucker Supreme.’
It’s a coming of age album, yes, and an album that aches with self-discovery, self-definition, and self-redefinition: “Nothing is simple just cause you wish that it is.” “I can’t believe I’ll die before becoming a frog.” “Wolfing down Doritos, lickin’ on my fingers, anger on my tongue, Doritos in my anger!” “Wouldn’t we be perfect together if we wanted exactly the same thing?” But ‘Sucker Supreme,’ Tucker’s first album for Epitaph, is also just the right follow-up to where their last album, 2019’s ‘Never Not Never Not Never Not,’ left off: still playfully observed, still sneakily political, still indebted to folk singers of the past – but also much, much bigger, brighter, louder and noisier than anything Tucker has dared before. It delivers mightily on an ambitious M.O.: to be relentlessly catchy and muscular and noisy but also beautiful; be achingly sad and searching, but never too far away from funny, either; and to spotlight Tucker’s empathetic, yearning vocals on top of it all.
In the world of ‘Sucker Supreme,’ Rosie’s openhearted, sing-song alto melodies are king; wry, detailed lyricism is queen; and noise is the old man with the long beard who seems like he came from nowhere. Noise creaks in every layer of these songs: ticking Geiger counters, synthesized whale calls, tape machine slams, walls of distorted guitar rolling in and then blooming out into infinite repeats.
“I’ve spent a lot of time refusing to come to terms with the fact that I am stuck with myself, being the person I am all the time,” says Tucker, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. “Yes, I’ve gotten better at using a calendar, and exercising, and telling people about my stupid feelings when it’s relevant to do so. Sure, I floss sometimes. I read nonfiction and take out the trash. I’m a paragon of decency. All this to say I have gotten adequate at living while impatiently waiting for the smarter, kinder, better looking version of myself to come along, lead me out back, and put me out of my misery.”
Nowhere is this self-exploration more poignant than on “Habanero,” a song about waiting for a transformation that isn’t coming. “The first two verses are about flirting, which is an important distraction from both the problems of the self and the issue of mortality,” Tucker says. “Desire is not the same thing as a sense of self, but it’ll work as an added sugar corn syrup kind of substitute. The third verse pulls from an early memory of a stream dense with tadpoles, watching them wriggle around my fingers in the water. I was obsessed – obsessed – with amphibians in general, and frogs in particular. I loved that they couldn’t be confined to one environment. I loved that they grow up by way of shape-shifting.”