Soccer Mommy – ‘Clean’ Review

The Nashville musician's debut will make you feel young and in love

You’ll be hard pressed to find an opening line this year as devastating as the one on Soccer Mommy’s new single ‘Your Dog’. “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog that you drag around / A collar on my neck tied to a pole, leave me in the freezing cold,” asserts Nashville’s Sophie Allison in the song’s opening tirade. It’s the musical equivalent of someone grabbing the scruff of your neck and demanded that you get your shit together.

This mindset is evident throughout the 20-year-old’s debut album ‘Clean’ – albeit through various guises. ‘Scorpio Rising’ frames heartbreak via the astrological movements of the planets and the album’s hypnotising closer ‘Wildflowers’ sees Allison consider her relationship with religion: “I found God on Sunday morning laying next to you / My arms stretched out like Jesus / White sheets nail me down to the bed”.

Though those internal reflections are by and large the broad strokes of the record, the true wonder lies in her ability to craft vivid characters and a sense of small-town life across the ten tracks. The gentle ‘Flaw’ sees Allison go “skinny dipping by my house”, ‘Skin’ drags you to the “alleyway behind your father’s house” and ‘Cool’ imagines waiting “outside on her street” for “stoner girl Mary”.

But it’s not just lyrically that Allison has upped her game from last year’s bedroom-produced set of songs, ‘Collection’. This album has seen Allison start working in a recording studio proper, and that new environment has pushed Allison’s stellar arrangements to their limits. The album’s opener, ‘Still Clean’ uses distortion to perfection during a key chorus, and the languishing climax of ‘Cool’ is a sludgy and dizzying finale – the polar opposite to the album’s title.

The production trickery, paired with Allison’s lyrical nuances, make her songwriting, and this debut record, a dazzling and devastating triumph. Having established herself as one of America’s great young songwriters with this debut LP, Allison’s got the world at her feet – and we trust her to hit even harder next time around.