By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
[Fat Possum; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Still Clean”, “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)”, “Scorpio Rising”
Clean is the studio debut from indie artist Soccer Mommy, after years or releasing albums from her bedroom. The album focuses on love, rejection and the strangeness that comes with both of these. Her voice is realistic and believable, making each track tangible for a different reason.
Imagine lying in bed and holding your girlfriend as you both fall asleep under fuzzy lights, as lead singer Sophie Allison softly sings over acoustic guitar. “Still Clean” wraps you in warmth with its instrumentals, but crushes you with lyrics that bite with sadness. It’s beautiful tonally and emotionally, common traits for the tracks on this album.
A more upbeat track that reaches for popularity that stems from women who break hearts, “Cool” ends by warping its guitar solo down a few tones and rejecting this narrative it worked to build. Allison spits back her opinions of just being somebody’s plaything on “Your Dog”, where she sings “I don’t want to be your fucking dog that you drag around” over a plucky electric guitar melody. These two tracks have the most filled out instrumentals, taking more than just the basic strumming of an acoustic guitar.
Allison reaches for affirmation and acceptance while she tries to find a place to pin blame in “Flaw”, and wonders about the way that she wasted time searching for love in “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)”. Both tracks are centered around simple guitar and silence, especially in “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)”, where Allison’s vocals are able to churn over spacey guitar. Her search for these same themes is also in “Last Girl”, where her sharp vocals sing, “I want to be like your last girl”, and highlights her own insecurities about herself. It’s really relatable, especially when she enters a chorus of “Why do you still want to be with me?”, over a thumping guitar riff. These insecurities are prevalent throughout the album, but never more than in “Skin”, where she claims she “wants to be the person you kiss when you’re stoned” and be remembered all the time, as she whines over a heavy guitar and drum beat.
Remember your girlfriend from earlier? “Scorpio Rising” is for her. It’s sappy and sad and beautiful. It’s for you to slow-dance in a dorm room after both of you have a bad day. The lyrics are simple but emotional, the instrumentals are strong and the track fades out with a buzz. The album closes with simple guitar chords and dream-like lyrics on “Wildflowers”. Occasionally other instruments like a synth beat or a piano moment rise to complement the soft singing, but never overpower Allison’s core sound.
This album is a total success, especially for a debut studio album. Her voice resonates with the feelings we all have, whether we are 15 or 100 years old. Sincerity permeates the whole album in a way that is both cohesive and thematic.