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Soccer Mommy’s ‘color theory’ gets lost in translation and emits a dull grey sound

Soccer Mommy’s ‘color theory’ gets lost in translation and emits a dull grey sound

Soccer Mommy’s ‘color theory’ gets lost in translation and emits a dull grey sound
March 05
14:00 2020

Indie music is the scene right now for women to write whatever music they want. It is such a ripe market for bedroom musicians with the ambitions of superstars, and that’s always been what’s made indie such a special little home for people who weren’t accepted for who they were. However, this is rapidly changing.

In the modern age, I feel sometimes indie is a place where equal representation can ring true, as a lot of the premiere artists are women right now. You have Mitski, who was awarded album of the year by Pitchfork in 2018, along with the rest of their year-end top ten lists mostly being led by women like Snail Mail, Robyn, Vagabon, Lana Del Rey and FKA Twigs. This has translated into other music publications, as well, and it’s not just for show.

Sitting on the radar of this new age indie movement is 22-year-old Sophie Allison, known as Soccer Mommy. She started out making bedroom recordings as a teenager and released a collection of these tracks titled “Collection” in 2017. While it became a bit monotonous and was telling of a much younger artist dealing with the shortcomings of lo-fi bedroom recording, it showed a lot of potential. Her sound is deeply rooted in the early 90s jangle pop of bands like The Sundays, but also brings that sound to a modern setting.

This sound translates over into her 2018 debut studio album, “Clean,” which found Allison pining for a more refined indie rock aesthetic with her melancholic lyricism shining through the cracks. Songs “Still Clean” and “Your Dog” display a contrast between her softer, folk-inspired tendencies and her more upbeat, snarky indie rock. The album was good, but not quite reaching the status of great just yet.

It’s been two years since “Clean” was released, and Allison seemed hungrier than ever to prove herself once again. Her career trajectory up to this point looked promising and the market wants more of these female-led indie acts. Her second studio album, “color theory” hit shelves on Feb. 28.

The album finds Allison retaining her defined sound, but with more mature lyricism and fleshed out song structure. It feels like it should be a progression, and perhaps it is in a way, but it is sadly not what it should’ve been.

For the type of music Allison composes, brisk songwriting and clean-cut album run times seem to work the best. She sacrifices some of the spark she created on “Clean” and settles for overbearing song structures that have no reason to be as long as they are.

This is evident in album opener “bloodstream,” which sits at an a near six-minute run time. That isn’t even long, but it feels long because the song doesn’t truly progress. Not exactly the best look for the intro to an album. The song has catchy melodies and a more established sense of production, but these melodic resolutions don’t really pay off because they are all too similar to one another.

“crawling in my skin” finds an incredibly derivative guitar riff at the forefront with a grating vocal melody in the chorus. It is the very essence of dull songwriting and another track that doesn’t particularly reach fruition through a longer run time. The song sits at four minutes, and it still feels like it needs a fat trim at times.

Unfortunately, many of these tracks suffer from similar issues. What should truly be an album highlight, “yellow is the color of her eyes” instead loses its potential spark around the second verse because nothing new presents itself. Imagine if Coldplay were to write a seven-minute track in the same vein as their debut album “Parachutes.” Why is this song seven minutes? It comes off like Little Tikes first progressive song structure. I’m happy to see Allison play around with new ideas, as nothing would ever truly progress without innovation, but her producers really should’ve stepped in at some point and made the right calls here.

On the other hand, the song’s second half almost makes up for the unnecessary length. The lighthearted guitar riff that begins the outro sounds superb in the mix before a slightly over driven guitar solo breaks through the mold. A synthesizer then answers the call and a nice swell ensues until the track slowly fades away. If the rest of the song lived up to this passage, we’d end up at a different consensus. Alas, we did not.

Fortunately, there are some winners here. “Circle the drain” is such a clean pop rock song that provides the catchiest chorus on the album. It is so reminiscent of early 2000s Shania Twain or “Fearless” era Taylor Swift, and it is truly lovely. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and it is also the second track of the album, so it doesn’t make me immediately want to go listen to something else. It also has some of the finest mixing on the album, as a lead single should.

“Up the walls” is the shortest song on the album, serving as a bit of a sigh of relief after the domineering “yellow is the color of her eyes.” It is pleasant and serves its purpose well, with an interesting outro.

The greatest aspect of the album still lies in Allison’s lyricism. There’s a charm to the way she juggles juvenile angst with genuine heartbreak. She has some great lines and presents herself as wiser than her age would permit. Thankfully, the songs aren’t too dreary and still contain her sense of humor.

“…You wear your armor and you save pretty girls like me, but I’m not so pretty when I am naked,” sings Allison on the otherwise dry “royal screw up.” It’s a shame a lot of her lyricism is held back by the instrumental inconsistencies on the album.

While the album doesn’t possess the songwriting progression that should’ve been on full display from Allison, it still has promising elements that will translate well as she continues her career. She’s young and has plenty of room to grow, so we shouldn’t be too worried. It might be a little bit of a misstep for her, but her music is built upon self-wallowing and picking yourself back up. I have no doubt greener pastures lie ahead for Allison, along with bluer skies and more vibrant landscapes. Thus, is her theory of color.

Final rating: 2.75/5

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Nick Lawrence

Nick Lawrence

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