Soccer Mommy's 'Clean' Is A Coming-Of-Age Time Capsule
    • MONDAY, MARCH 05, 2018

    • Posted by: Chandra Johnson

    [Photo Credit: Chandra Johnson]

    "It's crazy that a year ago I was in school," Sophie Allison says tugging on her Doc Martens backstage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Her band Soccer Mommy has been busy picking up tour after tour, something she didn't anticipate when taking the semester off at NYU. In fact, it was just a few years ago that she was quietly recording music from her bedroom and only sharing her songs with close friends. Her DIY Bandcamp releases and solo shows caught the attention of Fat Possum Records. She released her Collection EP last year, as well as a few singles, but tour offers to support bands like The Drums, Slowdive, and Mitski, just to name a few, were rolling in, so her studies had to take a backseat. "I was just like, 'well it's not like if I take off school, I'm going to be sitting at home trying to make this career work.' I'm going to be actually doing shit. I can go to school at any time."

    Allison's air of nonchalance is present throughout her debut, Clean, an earnest snapshot of adolescence colored around fuzzy guitars. Maybe it's because she's been writing since she was five years old, but every song off the record is so irreproachable, as if the songs were lifted from the pages of a diary hidden under a glitter-smeared pillow. If Soccer Mommy were background music, it might come off sonically as slacker rock, but upon closer inspection, you're taken aback by the honesty and straightforwardness with which Allison crafts her songs.

    Her songs are painfully honest and undoubtedly female, something that critics have noticed. Some have hailed Allison as part of the wave of young female indie rockers like Julien Baker and, former tour mate, Phoebe Bridgers who contrast strong narratives with gentle voices. Though she's speaking her mind, to be declared as an ambassador for her gender is something Allison is a bit apprehensive about. "It's funny to hear people say [my songs are] feminist anthems because I'm like, ‘Really? I just wrote a song?' I think it is feminist to just be honest about your emotions and not let people gaslight you about them. I'm always very in tune to what I'm feeling much more than I used to be."

    On Clean, Allison pours that honesty into songs like "Blossom (Wasting My Time)," a stripped-back post-relationship track that sonically sounds as isolating as the feeling after a breakup. "I was wasting all my time on someone who couldn't love me / I knew when I met you, I'm not the one you want to be with," Allison croons over her guitar.

    She speaks as candidly as she writes, saying, "It was about analyzing being happy and just all the overanalyzing I did, like am I happy? Am I unhappy? It's not necessarily someone else's fault that I'm unhappy. Do I miss this person? Am I just lonely?" She says releasing her songs is cathartic but there are those days when some songs do hit her harder. "I don't usually write a song about a guy. I write songs about feelings that I've experienced throughout multiple different relationships."

    Performing such intimate songs that were written from her bedroom seems like a vulnerable thing to do in front of an audience, but they're what makes it so easy to connect with Soccer Mommy. Hearing Allison share personal recollections of situational feelings, as relatable as they are, shouldn't blur the lines of how accessible she is to those people in the audience. "Sometimes people don't talk to you like a person," says Allison of some encounters at the merch table. "It feels very dehumanizing sometimes."

    So, living life on the road, how does Allison balance the intense duality of over-stimulation and isolation? "I think it helps that the band is friends and we have fun together, and my boyfriend [Julian is Soccer Mommy's guitarist] is with me to make it feel a little more normal," she said. So like those writing sessions in her bedroom, Sophie Allison is making the best out of what she's got on the road.

    Clean is out now via Fat Possum Records.

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