The one thing that I keep noticing about Sophie Allison, better known by her stage name Soccer Mommy, is that her brand feels authentic. Welcoming heckling at her shows, she’ll go on tangents and tell stories when prompted. When I saw her perform at The Grammy Museum, she changed her entire setlist for a song request, needing to change the others to the tuning of the unplanned song. After the show, she politely ignored security guards that were blocking fans that wanted her to sign their records. At her show at The Observatory this past week, she poked fun at herself during the awkward pauses between tunings.
Even in her marketing, which is normally inherently inauthentic, her personality manages to shine through. Outspoken in her distaste for social media, Allison gleefully promoted herself on Roblox, where she held her listening party. She hosted a screening of ’70s sci-fi film Fantastic Planet and hung out with fans beforehand.
Influenced by the Americana sensibilities of her hometown, Nashville, the melodies of Taylor Swift, and the rock sounds of Avril Lavigne, Soccer Mommy has woven together a final product that has enamored critics across the country (Allison scored the coveted Best New Music title on Pitchfork for her very first studio album, Clean). With lyrics that are strikingly visual, sung with a voice that’s blunt and unassuming like she’s telling you a secret, her music draws listeners in and combines my favorite bands. Her words are bold and full of feeling one moment, then acutely painful the next.
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Soccer Mommy’s aforementioned 2018 release Clean won the hearts of not only critics but a growing circle of dedicated fans. With a clear vision of who she was apparent from the get-go, rare for an artist on their first studio release, Allison confidently established her sound immediately. Guitar-led songs with catchy melodies, glossy production and a pop-punk edge, her music is full of self-assuredness. Her lyrics act as a stark contrast, appropriate for a debut: youthful and full of infatuation, yearning and humility. “I want to be that cool,” she sings on “Cool,” wanting to be “the girl you pictured in a dream.” Fan favorite “Your Dog” compares navigating a suffocating relationship to “a collar on [her] neck tied to a pole,” as she laments, “I want a love that lets me breathe.”
Moving on to her sophomore effort color theory, Soccer Mommy navigates darker feelings with a wider range of musical flourishes. She takes the listener on a ride with booming choruses on “lucy,” then pulls them back underwater with the restrained “night swimming.” Her late ’90s and early ’00s sound is perfected on “circle the drain,” a deceptively painful song that sounds like it could soundtrack the end credits of She’s All That, the movie she says she’d choose to place it.
Soccer Mommy’s latest project Sometimes, Forever shows a maturity and continuation of her past works, keeping the 90’s sounds while digging deeper. Exploring death with an ode to her white truck, she sings, “I wanna drive out where the sun shines, drown out the noise and the way I feel” in “I Feel It All The Time.” On the flip side as a threat, she says she’s a “bullet in a shotgun waiting to sound” in “Shotgun,” concocting delicious combos: death with trucks and falling in love, ruminations on suffering with wit. Throughout each release, Allison maintains the authenticity we’ve grown to love in both her image and her signature wry, relatable lyricism. On Clean, she wanted to be “that cool,” and time and time again, she proves she already is.