On the 2020 release, Color Theory, Soccer Mommy explored emotions across the spectrum, but clearly her lyrics felt most at home in the darker hues and textures of the palette. Of course, Soccer Mommy is singer/songwriter Sophie Allison; buoyed by a strong critical response and tours opening for Liz Phair and Kacy Musgraves, has raised expectations around her third full-length studio album. On the new disc’s closing track, “Still,” she explains that she tilts toward the big emotions: “I don’t know how to feel things small/It’s a tidal wave or nothing at all.” As proof that she goes to extremes, she sings that she “might make an impulsive decision/I’ll cut a piece out of my thigh/I felt my heart go skydiving/you got me high for a little while.”
In interviews about the songs on Sometimes, Forever, Allison has said that she was inspired by the way Mary Shelley mixed the romantic with the monstrous in her “Frankenstein,” while the song “Darkness Forever” is a reflection on the suicide of poet Sylvia Plath, when she “tried to set the evil on fire.” Even describing a loving commitment in “With U,” she’s aware of “Your crystal eyes/Cut deep like a knife/They’re teaching me how to bleed,” while in “Bones” she’s “trying to be someone/that you could love and understand/but I know that I’m not.” In “Shotgun,” she holds dear all the moments of closeness, yet describes her longing in weaponized language: “whenever you want me I’ll be around/I’m a bullet in a shotgun waiting to sound.” There’s a push/pull in the emotions she’s describing, her better angels often wrestling with her demons, there’s beauty but it’s side by side with the macabre; it’s always more than one thing.
Musically, Soccer Mommy’s sound builds on the solid foundation of Allison’s guitar pop inclinations, and the backing from her band, which includes the rhythm section of Rodrigo Avendano or Graeme Goetz on bass and Rollum Haas on drums. She plays guitar with help here and there from Avendano, Julian Powell, Gabe Wax, and Nate Boyce. Production this time out is handled by Oneohtrix Point Never, aka Daniel Lopatin, whose synths and various keyboards and contributes to the general noisier aspects, often expressing the underlying tensions in Allison’s poetic narratives, not unlike the recorded work of Phoebe Bridgers and Mitski. The result is another fine collection of songs that expand on Soccer Mommy’s portrait of a world where beauty and connection struggle to thrive in a dangerous world where things often have an ugly underbelly.
“Shotgun” / “newdemo” / “Bones”
ARTISTS WITH SIMILAR FIRE
Phoebe Bridgers / Liz Phair / Mitski