Soccer Mommy - Clean

by Mark Moody Rating:6 Release Date:2018-03-02
Soccer Mommy - Clean
Soccer Mommy - Clean

Soccer Mommy’s (aka Sophie Allison) debut album of all new material, Clean, starts out decidedly darker than her previous output.  Prior to the album, Nashville based Allison put out some self-recorded Bandcamp singles and EPs and last year’s excellent re-recorded highlights simply titled Collection.  Expectations have to be running high for her given the strength of her earlier work that evidenced insights well beyond her years.    

The first three songs have some harder edged lyrical linkages with animalistic metaphors and opener ‘Still Clean’ in particular paints Allison as victim at the hand of a devourer.  The song shows her at the album’s most literary with her ex- portrayed as a wolf that consumed her, spat her out and washes himself clean while she describes herself as “only what you wanted for a little while”.  Forgoing the empathy and depth she showed on last year’s ‘Allison’, the Mary of the second track ‘Cool’ is also described as an animal that “will eat you whole”, but here Allison is jealous of her and wants to change places.  Not to be outdone, Allison turns The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ on its head with ‘Your Dog’ where she lashes out “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog, that you drag around”.  The rest of the album isn’t nearly as sinister but holds few highlights as it treads in mainly the same heart-broke waters.

For the most part the best of the remaining tracks are notable for their instrumentation and melodic drive.  ‘Flaw’ is a low key highlight with its soft harmonics and open self-assessment of “I choose to blame it all on you, cause I don’t like the truth”.  The mundane lyrics of ‘Last Girl’ - “she’s so fine, and she’s always nice” - are made up for by the strongest melody on the album.  In the alternative, the meandering ‘Saturn Rising’ has some of the most evocative lyrics  about a boy ignoring calls from his mother and waking in the car to sunlight painting yellow lines on a field.  Unfortunately, too many of the tracks like ‘Blossom’ and ‘Skin’ benefit from neither interesting lyrics or more complex instrumentation.  It seems Allison has regressed emotionally and musically from some of the maturity shown on her earlier work, going back to the high school well too many times when she needs to move forward.       

Whereas Collection showed an artist maturing and setting herself apart with some jazzy guitar and keys on many of the tracks, Clean, though maybe having more instrumentation feels more stripped down, direct, and unfortunately for the most part one dimensional.  Where Allison tries to assert herself on the opening three tracks it comes off more bark than bite.  For the most part the album shows Allison awkwardly trying to reestablish her identity when it seems she was already there.  There is nothing here that reaches the heights of the aforementioned ‘Allison’, ‘Try’, ‘Out Worn’, or even the earlier ‘Switzerland’, so for the most part Clean doesn’t really wash.  Fortunately, Allison has already proven herself to have a depth of talent and that doesn’t just disappear, so there should be more great things to come from her going forward.

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