The defiant intimacy of Soccer Mommy’s ‘Clean’
Molly Chen | Thursday, March 8, 2018
The bedroom pop movement has seen a host of talented indie females recently. Now, after years of creating music and posting it on Bandcamp and Tumblr, Sophie Allison, better known as Soccer Mommy, has released her debut studio album “Clean.” The record features stripped and, at times, slightly distorted guitars, honest lyrics and the need to feel “clean” after an ended relationship and before the start of a new one. Allison’s familiar bedroom pop is met with a tinge of grunge which leaves listeners feeling both emotional and empowered.
Despite its number of upbeat tracks, the album opens with “Still Clean,” a sad, slow burning tune that works with the glamorization of being wanted in an almost animalistic way. The track, with compelling imagery representing an eager lover as an insatiable beast poised to devour Allison, is instantly impactful. The second track, “Cool,” explores the romanticization of the untouchable, cold-hearted “cool girl.”
The third track, “Your Dog,” follows the album’s theme with a more assertive approach. A moment of aggressive resilience among a period of insecurity, Allison likens the feelings of being trapped in an abusive relationship to that of being left tied to a pole or dragged around on a leash like a dog. Unfortunately, even as she sings “I don’t want to be your f—— dog,” Allison acknowledges that escaping knotty, unhealthy relationships or mindsets is not always simple. The fierceness subsides, and “Flaw” follows with lighter guitars backing a dejected Allison as she hazily sings “maybe it’s just a flaw that I’ve been havin’ all along / in thinking love would be that strong, baby don’t leave me now.”
Starting out, “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)” is one of the most stinging tracks on the record. Allison’s vocals are a little weaker than on the previous tracks. “Wasting all my time wondering if you really loved me,” she croons, before becoming more optimistic as the track wraps up — “I found someone who has time to show me they really love me.” Still, finding someone new isn’t the end of Allison’s journey. With a resurgence of energy, Allison sings about wanting to be like her love’s ex on “Last Girl.” She starts out with lyrics about the last girl’s looks before questioning herself in a way familiar to many, “Why would you still want to be with me? / She’s got everything.”
“Skin” returns to the idea of being somehow tainted or stained by former lovers. It likens having someone on your mind to having them trapped under your skin. The album begins to wrap up with the lingering track “Scorpio Rising.” Despite being somewhat melodically redundant, it’s one of Allison’s strongest tracks lyrically. The song discusses the messy, often confusing and complicated facets of a budding relationship. “Clean” wraps up with a captivatingly simple guitar interlude, followed by “Wildflowers.”
All of Soccer Mommy’s music is fairly relatable, but something about “Clean” stands out from her previous work. With simple melodies, more confident guitar and painfully honest lyrics, “Clean” is an affective, intimate message about the reclamation of power after messy relationships. Allison doesn’t code her feelings with superfluous poetry, and this is one of her greatest strengths. Her lyrics are direct, achingly honest and well placed over uncomplicated instrumentals. At just 35 minutes long, “Clean” is a brief record that gives an account of feelings that nearly everyone’s had at one point or another, but, at the same time, it feels like an intimate view into Allison’s inner life. “Clean” is a tender, stirring record that’ll be hard to take off repeat.
Artist: Soccer Mommy
Label: Fat Possum Records
Favorite Tracks: “Your Dog,” “Last Girl”
If you like: Jay Som, Florist, (Sandy) Alex G
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5