Sophie Allison was born in Switzerland and grew up in Nashville. She self-released guitar-pop as a teenager on Bandcamp, before releasing her official debut, Clean, in 2018. While she records with a band, Soccer Mommy is effectively an alias for Allison.
Allison’s disinterested, drawling voice and uncertain blend of bravado and emotional vulnerability recalls 1990s alt-rocker Liz Phair, although Allison wasn’t born when Phair was in her prime. Allison herself names Taylor Swift and Mitski as influences; Mitski’s guitar-rock like ‘Your Best American Girl’ is a good reference point. Allison’s lyrical imagery and storytelling aren’t unlike Swift’s, although lines like “I want to be the one you’re kissing when you’re stoned” are more comparable to Phair than to the clean-cut Swift.
Allison’s secret weapon is her skill as a guitarist. She took lessons in jazz guitar, and her records are peppered with inventive licks and pretty, jangly riffs.
Soccer Mommy Album Reviews
Sophie Allison had previously self-released solo albums recorded in her bedroom. By the time of 2017’s Collection, she had started working with a full band, and reworked some of her back-catalogue; Collection consists of two new songs and six re-recordings.
While the barely out of her teens Allison is still learning her craft on Collection, it’s an enjoyable compilation. Her rhythm guitar playing is creative and propels these songs, pushing against her laconic vocals. Her lyrics are more generic than they’d be later – the most memorable song is ‘Death By Chocolate’, where Allison declares “You smell like cigarettes/And how chocolate tastes/It makes me wanna die.”
2018’s Clean demonstrated that Allison was capable of much more, but her 1990s-flavoured rock and vibrant rhythm guitar are already entertaining on Collection.
2018’s Clean is Soccer Mommy’s official debut album, released at the age of twenty. The previous year’s Collection was enjoyable, but Clean is at a different level artistically. Allison has blossomed into both a strong lyricist and an extremely creative guitarist. Her rhythm guitar is the dominant feature of Clean, whether she’s playing unusual, droning riffs like ‘Cool’ or distinctive rhythms like the scratching, tentative ‘Flaw’ and the sparse, acoustic ‘Blossom’.
Opener ‘Still Clean’ features the record’s most memorable imagery, comparing a former lover to a carnivore.
In the summer
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
Second track ‘Cool’ is notable for its guitar work, both the droning riff that opens the song and the bizarre ending where the guitars de-tune, leaving the song hanging on an ambiguous note. The focal point though, is ‘Scorpio Rising’, where Allison’s prettiest melody is matched by an arrangement that ratchets up the tension, ending in a squall of feedback.
Clean is a ridiculously assured album from a 20-year-old. Allison’s dual skills as a writer of creative guitar riffs and evocative lyrics constitute a strong arsenal of talent.
Sophie Allison’s second official album is titled Color Theory, and is divided into three sections: yellow, blue and grey. In interviews, Allison’s spoken about her impulse to process internal issues like her mother’s ten-year fight with cancer, which is covered in the lengthy ‘Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes’. Accordingly, Color Theory is a more introspective record. With introspection comes a drag in the tempos – after two upbeat opening tracks, Color Theory settles into slow material.
Standout track ‘Circle The Drain’ zeroes in on the 1990s sound that Allison’s often compared to – an upbeat song about depressive episodes, enlivened by Allison’s typically creative guitar work. The raw ‘Royal Screw Up’ follows ‘Circle the Drain’ and it pulls Color Theory into a morass of introspective material. There’s the brisk rock of ‘Lucy’, about Allison confronting her inner demons, and the dabbling with electronica on ‘Gray Light’, but the overriding mood of Color Theory is moody introspection.
Allison’s still only 22 years old – she’s a major talent who’s following her muse and making the album that she needed to. Color Theory shows significant artistic growth, but at the same time it’s less satisfying than Clean.
On Sometimes, Forever, Allison is paired with electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never – the pair were mutual admirers of each other’s work, despite inhabiting different musical worlds. OPN successfully helps Allison to expand her sound, fleshing out her songs with electronics without taking the edge from the rock band format.
Sometimes Oneohtrix Point Never is more prominent than other times – ‘With U’ is led by chirping synths, while on ‘Newdemo’, woozy synths back the acoustic guitar. Other times, Sometimes, Forever is clearly a rock record; standout track ‘Shotgun’ is taut and bare-boned, while ‘Don’t Ask Me’ is intense. Allison is still using her music as therapy – ‘Darkness Forever’, one of the first songs written for the project, starts with the line “Head in the oven/Didn’t sound so crazy/My brain was burnin’/Hot to the touch.”
Sometimes, Forever is a successful third album for Soccer Mommy, Oneohtrix Point Never helping her to present her songs in different contexts.
10 Best Soccer Mommy Songs
Circle The Drain
Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes
Death By Chocolate
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