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Soccer Mommy - Clean (Album Review)

Monday, 09 April 2018 Written by Jennifer Geddes

According to Soccer Mommy, guitar music is dead as a mode of pop. And that’s something that makes Sophie Allison’s music so intriguing. Her honest lyrics, about the insecurities of being a young woman, come across like a sweary Taylor Swift after a couple of pints of cider with Ed Sheeran. But she has no designs on the top 10. Her style of music places her firmly in the alternative world, where a voice such as hers has traditionally had to work harder to be taken seriously.

There’s been a lot of buzz around the singer-songwriter, who’s already notched a few small independent releases and a singles collection on Fat Possum prior to the release of ‘Clean’. This feels like her first proper release, though, with the songs covering a time when she went from an insecure teenager who just wanted to be someone else, to understanding and accepting more about who she is.

Written with keen hindsight, these tracks manage to capture both initial vulnerability and lessons learned. Your Dog has surf rock vibe as Allison sings: “I'm not a prop for you to use, when you're lonely or confused, I want a love that lets me breathe, I've been choking on your leash.”

She talks about feeling a lack of power in a relationship, an idea returned to multiple times on Flaw and Still Clean.

Allison enviably finds strength in later tracks such as Wildflower and Skin, where she takes on a more powerful role: “Back in the alleyway behind your father's home, I'm clawing at your skin, trying to see your bones.” By this time she has found a love that she feels is more equal.

Cool is a catchy indie pop song about a girl she wants to be like: “She won’t ever love no boy, she’ll treat you like a fucking toy.” The song manages to capture the desire for strength at a time when young women are beginning to realise what place the world has for them. Last Girl takes a different look at the same issue, as Allison describes wanting to be like a new crush’s ex-girlfriend. “Love the way she wears her makeup, she would be so nice to wake up to," she sings. "She's so sweet, and she's so pretty, even more than me.”

Allison resists overtly placing these songs in a wider political context, remaining firmly in the emotional moment. That is perhaps why they have a strong ‘90s feel to them, like they should soundtrack a film starring Rachael Leigh Cook or Julia Stiles. The decade was notable for strong female voices, and pop-rock music was still big in the charts. Allison’s delivery also has that slacker feel to it, like she’s only half awake, and she borrows her shimmering sound from shoegaze.

But songs written about the female experience will inevitably be political until they become the norm. Allison is one of many young women across the musical spectrum, alongside the likes of Julia Michaels, Sigrid, SZA, Ray BLK and many more, who through their rising success are helping to open up a bigger space for women to write about their own lives and be taken seriously as musicians. ‘Clean’ helps to do just that.

Soccer Mommy Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue September 04 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Wed September 05 2018 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Fri September 07 2018 - DUBLIN Grand Social
Sat September 08 2018 - LIVERPOOL Shipping Forecast
Mon September 10 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social
Tue September 11 2018 - BRISTOL Louisiana
Thu September 13 2018 - LONDON Scala

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