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[Album Review] Soccer Mommy – Clean

Basking in downtempo mellow instrumentation, and soothing reminiscences through the likes of “everybody’s changing and their moving away – I kissed you hardest on the moving day”, it’s not at all difficult to find yourself softly slipping into the calm lull of Sophie Allison’s Soccer Mommy. Predominantly an independent artist, Allison’s stylistic output has remained relatively similar throughout a still rather young discography; from 2016’s For Young Hearts, through to 2017 compilation release, Collection, much of Allison’s ‘bedroom pop’ roots itself in bittersweet vocal delivery with gentle indie-rock guitar-work, whilst chirpy, bright melodic synthesizers and aesthetics often pepper the tracks and embellish things further. As for Allison herself, lyrically much of the Soccer Mommy material finds itself grounded in personal relationships and themes, and while vocally it can be delivered quite gently and passively, the bluntly addressed lyrical side of things often explores the far more intimate and emotionally strained, such as ‘3am At A Party’s introductory “I wish we had chances to talk like this, a little more often. But you were always dealing with your girlfriend’s shit, and I was always feeling broken over it.”

It’s certainly immediately apparent that Clean, Allison‘s 2018 ‘debut’, as it is being commonly referred to, loses nothing of previous Soccer Mommy‘s poignancy, Allison‘s melancholic observations often drifting by in a wonderful, yet dejected daydream; ‘Blossom (Wasting All My Time)’ and album opener, ‘Still Clean’, both soothe away as gentle chord-work and Allison‘s soft vocal delivery of “only what you wanted for a little while” on ‘Still Clean’ opens the record beautifully. This is then immediately juxtaposed by ‘Cool’s dissonant, reverb-laden opening guitar riff, and Allison herself displaying a little more attitude in her delivery of “she won’t ever love no boy, she’ll treat you like a fucking toy”, while a euphoric chorus of “I wanna know like you, I wanna be that cool” surges forward gorgeously. ‘Your Dog’ offers similar tenacity, an opening exasperated “I don’t want to be your fucking dog”, and twangy guitar riffs that lead the mid-tempo confessional track forward, reflecting on a former emotionally abusive relationship; “at the edge of every bed, your sleeping body stretching out. Guess I’ll curl up on the couch.”

Much of the record explores similar territory, and remains wonderfully captivating while doing so; the aforementioned ‘Blossom (Wasting All My Time)’, sways tenderly back and forth, Sophie Allison crooning away over hazy, ambient instrumentals and gentle guitar work, “I’m not the one you wanna be with, ’cause I can’t see you blossom in the future that I’m dreaming.” An almost punk-infused ‘Last Girl’ offers one of the album’s most hard-hitting moments, and it’s the likes of ‘Scorpio Rising’s “don’t think of my life anywhere but in your arms tonight” that renders Soccer Mommy so entrancingly attention-grabbing, or even the penultimate instrumental, ‘Interlude’, acoustic arpeggios and wailing slightly overdriven chords that pierce through hauntingly.

At its heart, Clean is certainly the kind of record that evokes some of the most brutally honest songwriting you’re likely to find, and it’s exactly the kind of music to find yourself completely lost in. Amidst gorgeous indie rock instrumentation, and Allison‘s wonderfully captivating vocal delivery, if Clean is to be considered the ‘true’ Soccer Mommy debut, it’s extremely hard to dispute why; everything on the album has been lovingly crafted from beginning to end, it’s only true slight weakness being that some of the material could be considered a little too similar at moments, but this is a very minimal flaw on the surface of a very beautiful piece of work. It makes sense that the preliminary For Young Hearts, and Collection, are considered more of a set of stepping stones to what eventually became Clean, despite both arguably being very solid early offerings of Soccer Mommy material. Clean instead seems to represent everything Sophie Allison has been gradually reaching for, throughout a still young career, and the final result is everything it could have hoped to be.

M. Stoneman

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