This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Indie Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Still Clean,” “Blossom (Wasting All My Time),” “Your Dog”
20 is a perplexing age. Smack dab in the middle of legal-adult-yet-not-able-to-buy-alcohol limbo, it’s an age where most of us are just trying to figure everything out. It’s also an age where there’s a spectrum of acceptable responsibilities and capabilities. Some 20-year-olds cook and clean and are self-sufficient, whereas others still rely heavily on their parents—both of those are acceptable by most people’s standards. But wherever someone falls on this spectrum, most 20-year-olds haven’t released three full length albums before their first sip of legal liquor. Yet somehow Sophie Allison, AKA Soccer Mommy, has accomplished this while establishing herself in the indie rock/bedroom pop world. She’s figured it out. Her most recent release, CLEAN, falls in line with her two previous projects, bolstering her catalogue of relatable songs and giving her audience even more to love about her.
I liked CLEAN, but let me start by saying that it’s somewhat unassuming. This isn’t an album that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster from stadium anthems to heart-wrenching ballads; it’s much smoother than that. It’s cohesive in lyrics and in sound, and the songs seamlessly blend together. In that same sense, it almost seemed like an extension of Allison’s 2017 release COLLECTION.
The biggest difference between this album and her previous work comes through the lyrical ideas. COLLECTION focuses on love/lust songs about boys who won’t notice her, or songs criticizing herself for how she interacts with the same. But on CLEAN, a someone’s clearly done her wrong. Tracks like “Cool” (“She won’t ever love no boy”) and “Your Dog” (“Always talk to other people / Dart my eyes across the room / Forehead kisses break my knees and / Leave me crawling back to you”) show her fighting between not needing a relationship while knowing her own weakness for one. The opening track, “Still Clean,” recounts one failed relationship: “You said you loved me like an animal / Stayed beside me / Just enough to keep your belly full / Then you took me down to the water / Got your mouth all clean / Left me drowning / Once you picked me out your bloody teeth.” Damn, did this dude mess up, and she is not afraid to share it all.
Regardless of what sparked this lyrical shift, it was certainly timely with the current climate in music and the world as a whole. Her feminist words speak to a feeling many can relate to, young and old. It’s comforting and empowering to hear her set these words to what, with the tempo and rhythm, can almost feel like an indie rock lullaby. The way she addresses such relevant conflictions show her to be a voice of this time, movement, and ideological shift.
Everything about Soccer Mommy’s music sounds effortless. Not that she didn’t work hard, but she so easily crafts singable melodies and guitar riffs that will get stuck in your head. Her voice sounds relaxed but carries emotion. She keeps the instrumentation simple, some tracks even just consisting of guitar and voice, which allows listeners to take in the full weight of each word. The sound is inviting, with the unexpected twist of sharply honest truths. Soccer Mommy perfectly captures the feeling of nostalgia you have for a song you’ve never heard before.
These days you’re either mad at an artist for changing too much or changing too little. We want our favorite musicians to blow our minds with creative leaps, but will ditch them when they’ve gone too far. From COLLECTION to CLEAN, Soccer Mommy has stayed fairly consistent, but because her songs evoke feelings of comfort and familiarity, her fans should be totally on board. With CLEAN she’s able to show the vulnerable side of her that wants to be a kickass independent woman but isn’t there all the time, all while maintaining her simple sound. It’s exciting to think of what she can accomplish in her guaranteed long career ahead, and at this rate, we’ll have four more albums from her before she can rent a car.