Soccer Mommy Brings the Minivan to Houston
Like many, I was first introduced to Soccer Mommy through her studio debut, Clean, released appropriately in the highly emotional Pisces season (March) of last year. Again like many, I was instantly drawn to her cool-girl aura. Her laidback style (slightly smudged eyeliner, straight hair, and nose ring all included) and unapologetically intimate, confrontational lyrics all seem reminiscent of the 90s female singer-songwriter scene.
A Nashville native, Sophie Allison has been releasing music under the name Soccer Mommy (a clever nod to the teenage reclamation of mom jeans and dad bods) since the summer after her senior year of high school. She has fittingly toured with Liz Phair, whose breakthrough album Exile to Guyville (1993) seems to be an obvious influence of Allison’s. Her bandcamp bio describes her music as “chill but kind of sad,” which is accurate and incredibly self-aware. The twenty-ish* year old artist’s studio debut Clean quickly became one of my favorite albums of 2018 for that very reason.
The album’s emotional climax, “Scorpio Rising,” even snuck its way onto my most listened to songs of 2018 playlist (which, if you’ve heard the song, clues you in to the kind of year I was having).
Clean plays to Allison’s strengths, exploring philosophical questions about identity and fate alongside the “lowbrow” concerns of girlhood: astrology, schoolyard crushes, doodles of flaming furbies, etc. It succeeds at not feeling like a forced subversion of those teenage tropes but rather a genuine lived experience worth telling. No matter how insignificant adult male audiences may find teenage jealousy or moving away for college as subject matter, Allison gives her songs the emotional intensity typical of the indie rock genre.
Her lyrical content is simple, beautiful, and violent, as any good coming of age piece is. With an almost conversational delivery, Allison makes even the most drawn out and bloody metaphors sound like something your friend would casually lament to you after a heartbreak.
Despite the pain and insecurity in many of her songs, she doesn’t forfeit her pride or autonomy. The track “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)” may be the best example of this. Allison at once regrets time wasted on an old relationship, recognizes her worth, understands that the onus was ultimately on her partner for treating her poorly, and moves onto a more reciprocated relationship. And, true to youthful form, this entire journey happens in the span of three minutes and thirteen seconds.
I was wasting all my time thinking ’bout the way you treat me
Wasting all my time on someone who didn’t know me
I’ll be spending all my time
With someone who really wants me
Though the cleaner production on her drops as a newly signed artist is a welcome improvement, there’s still a certain DIY sensibility that seems ingrained in her sound. Her latest (and only) releases since her album have been rerecordings of an old demo she originally dropped on bandcamp and a cover of the Springsteen classic “I’m on Fire,” which she’s been performing on tour for months. This, combined with her down-to-earth social media presence, seem to indicate that the industry hasn’t changed her content or artistic approach in the slightest.
If any of this interests you – or you simply want to put on your best pencil eyeliner and overall dress and stand in a crowd of like-minded sad girls – be sure to buy tickets for her upcoming Houston show at White Oak Music Hall on February 9th. The show’s forecast is chill, kind of sad, and undoubtedly worth the money.
*I scoured the internet for a verifiable age or birthday and came away with only the knowledge that she was twenty years old at some point in March of last year and her rising sign is Scorpio. Soccer Mommy, if you’re reading this, I beg of you, please email me your full birthchart.