Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, will be releasing her long-anticipated full-length debut on Friday. In it, she encapsulates everything that made her original bedroom EPs so entrancing while also giving them the studio treatment. Given the positive critical reception of her previous works, there was naturally a fair amount of hype to live up to. She does so by giving a very understated, but deeply rich collection of songs.
On Clean, Allison laments and croons over the issues that plague us at age 20, but what ends up happening is an entirely relatable trek through a post-teen mind that enlightens the listener to just how little things change. I’m closing in on 27, closer to my 30s than my early 20s, and yet Allison seems to know exactly where and when to land the gut punches so they hit the hardest.
Her subject matter flutters around the landscape of romance, love, and the world in general. “Still Clean” opens the record and sets a terrific tone. Using the simple guitar/voice combo she became known for in her early work, she pines “I’m only what you wanted for a little while.” This line following a beautiful story of somebody searching for meaning, landing on her, only to realize that she was a phase. An adventure with a clear end in mind. Using nature imagery, she paints a whimsical and yet devastating image. She was just a fire in this relationship.
But she can have her rocker moments of power and snark as well. “Your Dog” stands out as a great comparison of being trapped in a suffocating relationship where you’re more a pet than a partner. “Last Girl” gets cheeky in comparing herself to a partner’s previous ex; fearing she doesn’t compare to this other woman while also giving sighs of relief that he’s still with her. And while those fears can seem juvenile, who hasn’t laid down with a partner, even if it’s been years, and wonder if they miss being in a different, more exciting relationship. As Soccer Mommy, Allison sings with the experience of someone who has seen it all and has grown tired. There’s an organic exhaustion in her voice.
The key risk factor in heightening the low-fi sound is plain and simple: you don’t get a ton of variety or musical composition in the sound itself. Nothing is shockingly new or different and the album does carry itself through a very distinct and deliberate musical style. It just doesn’t change up. This can be great and this can be boring, but Soccer Mommy does just enough lyrically to make up for what you can grow tired of musically.
A great kickoff to a promising songwriter, Clean comes out March 2nd.