2020 – Rock
In color theory, Soccer Mommy expresses his deepest feelings alongside beautiful instruments
She is 22 years old. She doesn’t like football. She is not a mother. She admires Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne. And she is one of the biggest revelations of the last few years in the Indie world. Sophia Allison is a singer and songwriter who from the beginning demonstrates dominance in the arts. Soon after arriving in Nashville she learned to play the guitar and started playing in a swing band. In 2015, before going to New York University, she started posting her amateur music on Bandcamp as Soccer Mommy, and during her studies, she started to perform in a unique way, which caught the attention of some record labels. In 2017, after getting a contract with Fat Possum, she dropped out of college to focus on her music career. It looked like she knew she was destined for the music world.
Before her debut album, she had already released two albums independently. “For Young Hearts” released in 2016 and “Collection” released the following year were essential pieces in her career. However, in 2018, with her debut album Clean, she would achieve a new perfection. In it she would face a character that was direct, but sarcastic, where she showed a certain confusion around the passion with the help of beautiful melodies and lyrics. Clean was hailed by critics and fans and provided her with several incredible opportunities: she traveled with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski and Kacey Musgraves; she joined Paramore and Foster the People on stage; she opened the Vampire Weekend tour in the fall. And after all that, in 2020, she returns to the spotlight with her second album, Color Theory, in which she demonstrates the deepest feelings in a beautifully lyric way.
One of the most important themes in color theory is about the mental illnesses that the singer goes through. Right in the first song, “bloodstream”, she says: “Happiness is like a firefly on summer free evenings / Feel it slipping through my fingers”. The song, at first, seems like a modern version of In the Airplane Over the Sea, in the end, it becomes something based on modern indie rock bands while using an incredible lyric that describes everyday scenes to talk about fighting depression and self-mutilation. And although the song seems to last longer than it should, it is still a very good track, very nice to hear and above all, very beautiful: “Remembering running through my yard like a wild stream / Just a little kid, blood flowing into my rosy cheeks / Now a river runs red from my knuckles into the sink.”
Following the first track, “circle the drain” talks about the different stages of social isolation from depression. The most interesting thing about the song is how it sounds very sticky and carefree while we have this very positive instrumental in the background. “night swimming” seems to be played in the middle of a haze while the singer talks about loving someone who understands her. In “stain” she talks about the consequences of an abusive relationship in such a unique and intense way alongside an instrumental that follows the idea of the lyric. However, one of the songs that most enchanted me on the album was ” royal screw up”, because it seems that Soccer Mommy is composing the track on her head at the exact moment she sings these phrases, which are incredible and seem to intertwine in such a way simple and profound. In this track she talks about problems of self-esteem that she has faced for some time, “And you save pretty girls like me / But I’m not so pretty / When I am naked”, but also about relationship problems, “Cause you are a question / That I thought I could solve “. This is one of the songs that I felt most strangely moved.
One of the things that is addressed in the album in the most profound and emotional way is the health of Sophia’s mother. The song “yellow is the color of her eyes” uses the relationship of yellow color with physical illnesses in a very clever way to talk about wasting the time we still have with the people we love so much. She revealed to Pitchfork: “My mom has had a terminal illness for the last 10 years, since I was 12. It was something that I always pushed to the back of my mind, but when I started traveling a lot around Clean, I ended up spending a lot of time worrying about the fact that time is slipping away.”. This is certainly one of the most beautiful songs on the entire album. It’s a 7-minute letter where Sophia sings with sadness in her voice while her band plays back there, sometimes seeming to come from an unknown place and sounding hallucinating and sometimes they seem to be making a choir in which the voices are the instruments. Following the same direction, the last track on the album, “gray light”, talks about how Sophia is dealing with her mother’s battle with cancer and has one of the most emotional phrases of the entire album: “I can’t lose it / I’m watching my mother drown”.
Another very frequent theme in Sophia’s songs are demons, but they are not simple demons, but problems that dress up as demons. In an interview with i-D she said: “I mean, I write a lot about demons, honestly. I’m literally constantly thinking about demons, so it’s very easy for me.”. However, as has been said, these demons are metaphors for deeper meanings. In the song “Lucy”, for example, she asks Lucifer “Oh, Lucy, please / Quit taunting me”, but in fact the track is a masked account of fighting morals and doing the right things. Another example is “crawling in my skin” which talks about sleep paralysis. The most surprising thing about this track is how Soccer Mommy perfectly describes the process of sleep paralysis: “Seeing black / Seep through the cracks / Pouring out of the walls / I watch it creep and crawl / Through my room”.
Of course, there were some tracks on this album that I didn’t captivate me so much, such as “up the walls”, which despite having an important theme about not feeling enough for your lover, is a very shallow song with an instrumental very monochromatic (not a positive way). Other than that, the track has a very simple lyrics next to the other songs on this album. For the most part, it seems to be a set of obvious and ready phrases, and some other phrases in the middle that really give a clue as to what the song is about. Finally, a problem that I felt a little throughout the album is that the instruments are always the same, Soccer Mommy does not try so hard to introduce several new elements. Sure, she does it occasionally during the album, but I think she could have done it more often. But luckily, she totally made up for that mistake with her lyrics that are incredible.
Without a doubt, color theory is exciting, deep and true. I felt Taylor Swift inside Sophia and I felt Avril Lavigne inside Sophia, but most importantly: I felt Sophia. She showed all her feelings without hesitation. The lyrics on this album are impeccable, both the more complex and the weak ones are excellent. The weakest point of the album is probably the instrumental which at times during the album sounds a bit saturated but it was not something that drastically bothered. I really don’t have a lot of words to explain how beautiful and good this album is.