An intimate, summery warmth and a diaristic lyrical style characterises Soccer Mommy’s musical catalogue. Born in Nashville, Tennessee as Sophia Allison, Soccer Mommy’s music career started on the site Bandcamp before she released two studio albums. The first of these records, Clean, is the LP that introduced many to Soccer Mommy and it still stands as the best access point into her work. It’s an album of bittersweet songs evoking past love, a longing for independence and emotional uncertainty. ‘Cool’ is the stand-out track – with its chiming guitars, it provides a fantastic indie-rock slow groove about teenage envy and loneliness. This tone reflects the feel of the entire album, which is full of warm, strange anthems and ballads bound to conjure up the emotional turmoil and discontent of adolescence.
The follow-up to Clean was 2020’s Color Theory, a satisfying and expansive thematic sequel that dominated my playlists and essay writing sessions last year. Allison’s relatable and comforting lyrics cut through the spaced-out ambience of stand-out tracks ‘lucy’ and ‘yellow is the colour of her eyes’. Whereas Cool was a refreshingly distinctive take on subdued indie rock, Color Theory’s songs are often longer and less tightly structured, seeming to float unhurried on the atmospheric production and loose yet absorbing arrangements. Again, the lyrical content deals with romantic desire and self-doubt – “What did you have that I didn’t?”, she asks on ‘bloodstream’, “And why am I so blue?” – giving the tracks the great intimacy that has become Soccer Mommy’s trademark.
The ethereal softness of her voice and the dream-pop reminiscent sound of her albums buzz with 90s nostalgia
The ultimate highlight of Soccer Mommy’s artistry is the quality of Allison’s vocal performance, which is expressive, evocative and personable without ever becoming grating. It complements the relaxed and often rueful tone of the lyrics and instrumentation perfectly. The ethereal softness of her voice and the dream-pop reminiscent sound of her albums buzz with 90s nostalgia. Mazzy Star, the early work of The Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead’s The Bends (see ‘lucy’) is channelled through Soccer Mommy’s self-analytical output.
It’s encouraging to find that current artists are evoking an older sound. Allison herself lists Taylor Swift and songs like Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ as influences and this can be identified through a sampling of any one of the songs on Clean. The early lyrical style of Swift and Lavigne is clearly present in Soccer Mommy’s songwriting and Lavigne’s album Let Go in particular is perhaps the clearest influence on the sound of Allison’s two studio albums.
Aside from Clean and Color Theory, Collection, a compilation revisiting and reworking the early Bandcamp tracks, is a clear highlight of Soccer Mommy’s discography. This short album’s selection of lullabies play out like a confidential divulgence of emotional secrets. If you appreciate an emotive alternative sound that draws from the great modern artists of subdued romantic angst, Soccer Mommy is a musician that deserves your attention.