Soccer Mommy: color theory (Loma Vista) - review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 30th, 2020  

Soccer Mommy

color theory

Loma Vista

Feb 28, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The warm, melodic songs of Sophie Allison's Soccer Mommy conceal daggers. On her 2018 debut full-length, Clean, Allison depicted young love as a venue for self-loathing and violent longing, wrapped up in the sweetest melodies indie rock had to offer. The songs on Clean were endearingly rugged, emotionally sophisticated, and deceptively brutal. Nearly two years on, they burn as brightly as they did on first release.

Color theory, Soccer Mommy's ambitious second record, strikes a similar balance between light and dark but with a bolder, more expansive vision. Where the songs on Clean were mainly about relationships, its follow-up branches out into topics of mental illness and mortality with a directness so unflinching it can be uncomfortable. Allison has grown in confidence with the success of her debut and she has become unafraid to present uglier realities as the music that accompanies her lyrics has become brighter and prettier. The DIY aesthetic that accounted for much of her debut's charm has been put aside too for a sharper mix and production that calls back to the clean tones of early 2000s pop rock.

Although Allison has been clear about her intentions to take Soccer Mommy to a more mainstream audience—she cites Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne as inspirations, for example—the hi-fi production of color theory does not come at the cost of complexity. These songs are more direct than those on her debut but they are also often stranger and more varied—at times unsettlingly stark and at others sweepingly lush. On 'royal screw up' and 'stain,' Allison pairs some of her bleakest lyrics with the album's barest arrangements, as if to confront her listener with nowhere to turn. On the album's centerpiece—the towering epic 'yellow is the color of her eyes'—Allison speaks candidly about her mother's terminal illness. "Loving you isn't enough/You'll still be deep in the ground when it's done," she sings. The bitter pill is washed down with a rich instrumental that leans towards the sunny textures of '60s psychedelia and classic rock.

If Allison wanted to make a serious pitch for the charts, color theory also gives enough evidence to suggest she would be well-suited for it. At no point is that clearer than on its single 'circle the drain,' in which she packages a story of crippling depression alongside glistening pop rock melodies that would have made her regular on commercial rock radio in the early 2000s. Elsewhere, 'night swimming' is the most straightforwardly beautiful song of Allison's career, even as its lyrics talk of desperation—"You watched me sink beneath the water like a stone/And then let go."

Color theory is a knottier, more confrontational record than Soccer Mommy's debut and it certainly lacks some of that album's pristine simplicity at times. But Allison has grown to become a more challenging songwriter. There are fewer hooks here and less sweetness. This is a record that offers few answers for how to deal with trauma and illness, yet through its honesty and refreshing clarity, it will be a comfort to many listeners. Soccer Mommy has made bitter truths sound sweet without losing the harsh edges that give them poignant meaning. On color theory, Allison continues to push forward as one of the brightest talents in her genre. (www.soccermommyband.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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