ALBUM: Soccer Mommy – ‘Clean’

“I always wrote songs just for myself. I did it for fun, posting songs on Tumblr, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud. I didn’t think anyone would notice.” It’s hard to believe Soccer Mommy thought her genuine talent for songwriting wouldn’t show up on the musical radar. The twenty-one year old from Nashville has released her debut album Clean via Fat Possum Records, and it’s a well-crafted, affecting, pure display of her impressive writing skills.

Soccer Mommy (aka Sophie Allison) has teamed up with a full band and producer Gabe Wax (War On Drugs, Deerhunter, Beirut) to curate this new collection of poignant songs, all of which were mixed by Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey). The result is the “cohesive” record she was looking for; a “piece” of her life that addresses “similar themes” and comes together as a “whole”. These themes include love, lust, uncertainty, self-doubt, and Allison’s trademark “soft anger”.

The tentative ‘Still Clean’ opens the record, with Allison’s gentle, clear voice lamenting the bittersweet pain of drowning in the water, after a lover has washed her from his “bloody teeth”. Second track ‘Cool’ – which Allison says “comes from a place of insecurity and idealization” – is polished and uplifting in its delivery. She has a gift for exploring frustration and insecurity through laid-back vocals and melodic guitar.

‘Your Dog’ is another sublime example of this. Her frank admission of “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog” is a cathartic, emotional uprising against neglect, that seethes and soothes in equal parts. On ‘Flaw’, Soccer Mommy documents a loss of romantic faith, but she finds a quiet confidence again on following track ‘Blossom (Wasting All My Time)’. The song’s content will strike a painfully familiar chord to those carefully breaking out of their caged heart, taking tentative steps towards a new love.

Much like ‘Cool’, ‘Last Girl’ is an upbeat take on insecurity, and a wish to have the “everything” the other girls seem to have. ‘Skin’ is a smoldering assertion of lust: “Back in the alleyway behind your Father’s home, I’m clawing at your skin, trying to feel your bones”. Her urgency is palpable here, but so is her fear on following track ‘Scorpio Rising’. The hopeful opening lyrics are unraveled by Allison’s poignant image of being overlooked: “She’s lovely and sweet like coca cola, I watch from my drink as you look her over”. Her loves are unsustainable sugar rushes, but she longs for longevity and sincerity.

‘Interlude’ brings some brief respite from Soccer Mommy’s exquisite negativity. It’s a reverb-strewn instrumental that leads in to closing track ‘Wildflowers’; exploring the depths of her “grey and shriveled” heart. Even when she sings of her emotional fragility on Clean, Soccer Mommy’s skewed self perception is raw, honest, and remarkably strong. Definitely invest if you like confessional, beautifully modest indie music.

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

Kate Crudgington

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