Soccer Mommy Throws a Muse
Sophie Allison, a.k.a. Soccer Mommy has become one of the darlings of the indie music scene. That’s well deserved because of the quality of her music. It’s also strange because she’s not all that “indie”. While the themes of her music often revolve around mental health issues and addiction, so did Lynyrd Skynrd (“That Smell” for example) who was anything but indie. A much better comparison would be 80s and 90s alternative. In fact, the band that most comes to mind when I hear the latest Soccer Mommy album, Sometimes, Forever, is the Throwing Muses. Like the Throwing Muses, her music is ofttimes angular and unsettling, eccentric, and sludgy, punctuated with pop and rock hooks.
Sometimes, Forever may be the breakout album for Soccer Mommy. It’s an intense album, full of darkness, but tempered with lighthearted touches of Beatles style psychedelia. This keeps the album from becoming ponderous. Lyrically, relationships are a big part of the songs but so are struggles with mental health and the drugs that are used to treat them. The lead off song, “Bones”, is full of melancholy, as it suggests it is about someone unhappy with their relationship while feeling unworthy of their partner’s love. Things get uglier later with “Unholy Affliction”. Sludgy and grungy, full of crashing cymbals, it is an unsettling song. The lyrics suggest being unconnected from emotional reality and describing oneself as “mechanically working”. It has the feel of a Nine Inch Nails tune without the industrial beat.
That ominous Throwing Muses type song pops up again with the appropriately titled “Darkness Forever”. It starts with echoey vocals and a slow bass line before exploding into unnerving angular rock. This is a song clearly about bipolar disorder with lyrics like “Lithium readings making me dizzy/But they keep my feelings simmering low”. The closing song, “Still”, also seems to address this disorder directly, talking about not being able to feel like a person – as in not feeling small things only waves of emotion. “Don’t Ask Me” is about not feeling at all. It’s about caring enough to feel but being unable to feel, presumably because of the drugs used to treat mental health issues. “Shotgun” also leans into the issues of mental health with lyrics about coming down from drug and alcohol fueled nights with an enabling partner. In this case, though, Soccer Mommy, overlays the dark lyrics with a pop melody and new wave synths in the style of “Turn on Me” by the Shins. This makes the song even more unsettling; Songs this dark shouldn’t have bright tunes. It messes with your head when they do.
Violence is also present in many of the songs. “Fire in the Driveway” is the most indie of the album, until you realize what Soccer Mommy is saying. Lyrics like “Simmer in your water/Boil until your smothered/And spit is seething out between your teeth” is pretty harsh stuff for typically light indie rock. “Feel It All the Time” is also about unwanted emotions. Full of classic alt rock guitar licks, it has a melodic chorus but one tinged with terrible sadness. So, while a conventional alt rock song, it’s themes are about darkness in your mind and soul. This is not your typical 90s alt rock.
Like the Throwing Muses Kristin Hersh, mental health issues inform Soccer Mommy’s music. Perhaps it’s natural that subject matter such as this leads to unsettling angular and psychedelic music. Soccer Mommy has embraced the style, consciously or not, that was pioneered by the Throwing Muses. Sometimes, Forever is a leap forward in her songwriting, both musically and lyrically; She should become a bigger star than she is because of it. The problem is that not everyone can deal with such intense songs. Throwing Muses, while critically acclaimed, never achieved the commercial success they deserved because of that. I fear that Soccer Mommy will end up the same way.
So, tell all of your friends to stop listening to vacuous, factory produced, pop music and get real with Soccer Mommy. Feel!
On another note, it has been a while since I posted anything here. That’s a function of there being few new releases worthy of writing about (there I said it) and many music festivals to go to. Sorry but I don’t want to post for sake of posting. Conventional wisdom says that one should keep up a steady cadence of content to hold onto an audience. That’s crap! Bad content just for the sake of content is an insult to an audience. New releases are starting to pick up after the early summer hiatus, so expect to see more posts. Only expect the good stuff though. I’d rather be silent than post garbage.