“There has to be a reason you wrote all these things…It has to lead you somewhere.” Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, said in an interview earlier this year before the release of her latest album Sometimes, Forever. Allison was talking about her lyrics. If you had only heard Soccer Mommy’s past singles in passing and not focussed too much on what was said, you’d be surprised at the depth of the words delivered in Allison’s slack-rock, unaffected delivery. With a deeper listen, Soccer Mommy has a history of dealing with difficult subjects; poetic and exploratory, existential and dark. In Sometimes, Forever, she continues in the same vein, often dealing with gloomy subjects using violent imagery and references to self harm and substance abuse. In ‘newdemo’, she wonders “But what is a dream but a hope you hold you onto, A lie that you wish would come true?”. In ‘Still’, she talks about taking a chunk out of her thigh. Serious stuff. These more sensitive subjects do not normally find a place in the mainstream, yet Soccer Mommy manages to do this whilst still making accessible music.
You could also interpret the above interview quote as a comment on her own career so far. Allison has a firm idea of her sound and the type of music she wants to produce. On Sometimes, Forever, Allison has decided to move on from the producer of her first two albums to team up with Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, a producer who’s known for more experimental electronic production, and is an intentional choice to find something different in her music.
Just as with her two previous albums, the lo-fi sound she sprung on the scene with is immediately identifiable, although there has been a slow progression in each release away from lo-fi to a more rounded production. Sometimes, Forever comes amplified and shimmering out of the blocks with ‘Bones’. What starts as slow-strummed electric guitar builds and makes way for a screeching guitar shoegaze outro, increasing in tempo towards the end. It’s one of the singles from the album, a slack-rock indie hammerblow delivered with melancholic, lazy angst.
Straight from the intro, Lopatin’s production is more evident on the next track, ‘With U’; littered with sonic ad libs that elevate an already catchy song into something that offers something new on multiple listens and one of the stand-out tracks on the album. Lyrically it’s painful, beginning, “Cut deep like a knife, They’re teaching me how to bleed, I leave the pain, Feel it everyday”, but almost unemotionally sung, with the feeling that pain is being suppressed just beneath the surface. And like many of her tracks the depression of her words is camouflaged by optimistic-feeling, indie-pop melodies.
‘Unholy Affliction’ follows, which is a much more jarring and experimental song. There’s a grim heaviness to this track that for the first time on the album matches the darkness of the lyrics, though I can’t help feeling that if I was watching live I‘d be nipping to the bar during this one. And supping on my new beer, ‘Shotgun’ would start next, and I’d think I could probably wait this one out too, until the chorus kicks in and you realise it’s an absolute banger. ‘This’ and ‘Don’t Ask Me’, ‘Bones’ and ‘With U’ are all classic indie-pop tunes from this album that will stand the test of time.
In the latter part of the album the darker and experimental tracks take a larger share, as they do generally on this album compared to its predecessors. There are many references to fire, old flames and regular flames, alluding something all-consuming and destructive. Alisson herself has said “I didn’t want to make something super depressing without any sense of magic,” and I’d say she’s done exactly that.