Lyrically poignant musical experience
At just 22, Sophie Allison, who performs under the moniker Soccer Mommy, makes mature music that is unapologetically passionate and intimate. With such a clear and distinct vocal tone, Allison demands attention from the moment she opens her mouth, which is why her vocals are rightfully at the forefront of Soccer Mommy’s impressive second LP, color theory.
Split into three sections by color, color theory is more of an experience than another indie rock album. The first four tracks, which Allison considers blue, are representative of sadness and the general mix of emotions that being in your early 20’s causes. The next section is yellow and is indicative of physical and mental illness, particularly Allison’s mother’s battle with cancer. Gray represents the final part of the album, where Soccer Mommy summarizes and gets uncomfortably close with death.
Rather than just curating a collection of songs, Soccer Mommy has paved a journey for listeners to take through color theory. With a clear beginning, middle and end, the album sets itself apart and establishes its own validity within the industry.
Throughout the excursion, Soccer Mommy pays tribute to the ’90s and more importantly, Allison’s childhood. The album is riddled with feelings of nostalgia and a romanticization of the past, something nearly every person in their early 20’s is guilty of. She even says about as much in “up the walls,” singing, “no one’s really known me like you did when we were young.”
Soccer Mommy is special and deserving of her success for a number of reasons but color theory points to two above the rest: Allison’s vocals and lyricism. Vocally, she is not belting anything out over dueling guitars. She is not quirky in her delivery and she spends most of the album within the most comfortable part of her range. Despite the lack of risk-taking and almost static performance, Allison’s voice on color theory is brilliant. She knows how to use it, keeping the tone clear and bright, but controlled and reserved to avoid overshadowing the arguably most important aspect of these songs: the lyrics.
Any and all tracks off of color theory have their fair share of impeccable lyricism. Growing up in the age of Taylor Swift, Allison is witty and precise in her lyrical execution, utilizing traditional pop structure to her full advantage. “I try to break your walls but all I ever end up breaking is your bones/ and the bruises show/ standing in the living room as you’re staring at your phone/ it’s a cold I’ve known,” she sings on “night swimming.”
Perhaps Allison’s best writing comes from one of the later tracks, “lucy.” Where the art of storytelling has long been lost in music, Soccer Mommy singlehandedly revives it in this song alone. Using the universally known story of Lucifer falling from grace and seducing others into joining him, Allison utilizes the extended metaphor in order to reflect on mortality and the afterlife. In her retelling, she sings, “His mind is a fortress/ you can’t fight your way inside/ his body’s a temple/ made up of brimstone and fire.”
While color theory’s strengths obviously lie in the overall message, the musical execution leaves a little to be desired. Nearly all of the songs live somewhere in the mid-tempo range and without an extremely eclectic group of instruments to spruce up the tracks; many of them are left feeling bland and repetitive. While the vocals and lyrics save this album, the only distinct musical highlights are the inclusion of distortion and electronics, namely at the end of the opening track, “bloodstream,” and the closing track, “gray light.” In both instances, the distortion serves a purpose to the larger theme of the album, specifically that despite the laidback sound, this story is not clean-cut and nicely tied up.
Even with some faults, Soccer Mommy’s color theory is an incredibly strong release. Being so young and producing music of this quality, it is abundantly clear Allison has a bright future ahead of her. She has the ability to speak directly to people, especially people her own age, through her art, which will surely come in handy. While color theory may be a musical experience about nostalgia and mortality, it also directly asks the question on every 20-something’s mind: The neon colors of childhood and adolescence have faded but is this all there is?