Nashville native Sophie Allison – the creative force behind Soccer Mommy - is part of a wave of songwriters emboldened by the digital environment, in this case able to share her early home recordings on Bandcamp in an easy, supportive manner.
Since then, she’s simply blossomed. An online following for those initial digital releases was doggedly pursued, with Soccer Mommy sharing much more than mp3s; memories, hopes, regrets came tumbling forth, as she honed both an aesthetic approach and her own thoughts in the process.
Debut LP (proper) ‘Clean’ should be a breakthrough moment, a selection of wonderful, continually fascinating, hopelessly affecting songs that never overstay their welcome but always leave a lasting impression.
Opener ‘Still Clean’ begins in sparse, reflective territory, before flurry of synth noise swirl around Sophie’s plaintive yet resolutely confident vocal. ‘Cool’ is a full band performance, the choppy drums adding renewed urgency to lyrics that break apart the cool girl conceit amid menacing guitars and that thumping bass-line.
‘Flaw’ opens in virtual silence, the coruscating lyrics – “Baby I’m all messed up / Took your bottle, poured a cup” – rendered all the more devastating from the sparseness of the arrangement. It would be wrong, though, to picture ‘Clean’ as a document of introspection: ‘Last Girl’ is a sheer indie rock bop, worthy of Pavement’s imperial run, while ‘Your Dog’ rides that delicious perpetually revolving guitar riff.
‘Clean’ is a record that can wash over you in one listen, a crisp 10 part song cycle that delights in off piste melody, in uncovering fresh avenues in recognised tropes. Yet it’s also a record that retains its mystery, that seems to invite repeated listens to dig out those hidden jewels; the sumptuous keyboards at the tail of album finale ‘Wildflowers’, or the cute nod to home recording that is ‘Interlude’.
A singular, precise, and continually inviting experience, ‘Clean’ finds Soccer Mommy reaching a new level of artistry, using her earlier releases as a bedrock to support her ambitions. A marvellous debut, it’s truly something to savour.
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