One of the true standout records of the year, Soccer Mommy’s Clean is angst at its refined best. Polished, airtight melodies and Sophie Allison’s delicate coo make for an obsession-worthy collection of songs that will no doubt land on many a best-of list by the end of this year.
Performing two nights in a row at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg this week, Soccer Mommy filled the venue easily (a long way from when the band opened for Phoebe Bridgers at the same place just this past February). The Wednesday (12/5) evening show found Allison delivering a flawless set of songs off Clean and her last release, Collection, as well as a couple new ones. Set against a backdrop of pixel-y, spaced out screensavers, Soccer Mommy transported us back to our childhood bedrooms, stirring up memories of frantically scribbling in our journals as we waited for a crush to respond to our AIM message.
Allison’s songwriting contrasts youthful naivety with wisdom beyond her years. Her lyrics have grit to them, but her guitar melodies are the stuff pop rock dreams are made of. The songs on Clean express longing in a way that feels like she’s inside our own heads. We have all wanted to shed our skin and be someone else – someone more beautiful, poised, confident, desired – the way Allison describes in “Last Girl”. We have all wanted to tell off a terrible guy who treats us like garbage, and we flip the bird to him alongside her on “Your Dog.”
At the live show, her voice delivered all the raw beauty and angelic smoothness we get in our headphones. Opening her set with retro-cool new track “Henry,” and covering plenty of ground off Clean, the band was at their best when rocking out on songs like “Cool” and “Scorpio Rising.” But the most unforgettable moment came when Allison shed her bandmates and played a brief solo set. Singing a stunning cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” and her own gut-wrenching “Still Clean,” the room was devoted to her. Clad in pigtails, glasses and crushed velvet, Allison brought us right back to being our former disaffected teenage selves, relishing the small emotional victories while pining for something bigger, beyond them.