Clean is the first studio album from 20-year old Sophie Allison, who previously gained buzz the old-fashioned way, self-releasing her music on Bandcamp. Allison, a Nashville native who performs under the moniker Soccer Mommy, has moved away from home, started (and left) college, and was interviewed by the New York Times as one of the young women saving rock & roll. But rather than focus on her relatively fast trajectory to musical acclaim, Allison trades in nostalgia and self-reflection, like Taylor Swift before the haters.
Clear-eyed and sincere, Clean contains plenty of youthful earnestness. Lyrically, Allison is self-aware, keenly attuned to her insecurities. Her world has a pop-punk familiarity, like Blue Album-Weezer and Liz Phair. And while Allison dedicates several lines to wistful jealousy of “other girls,” it’s hard to not think she might be cooler than them already. She’s tough, standing up to an unworthy companion in “Your Dog.” But she’s still prone to insecurity, coping through humor on “Cool.”
A personal snapshot, Clean freezes time, like a visit home after being away. Her preoccupations are teenage (and occasionally timeless) leftovers, but more grown-up signatures are scribbled throughout. The way she easily drawls expletives and the patient restraint in the beautiful “Blossom (Wasting All My Time),” are marks of a mature musician. Bouncy tracks like “Cool” and “Last Girl” feel like the first warm day after you get your driver’s license. They’re evergreen, every-girl songs, but never silly. “Scorpio Rising” is a heartfelt emo sing-along, with clever millennial reasoning like, “And I'm just a victim of changing planets / My Scorpio rising and my parents.”
Allison first released music on Orchid Tapes, the label of choice for those with a bedroom recording studio, like Alex G and Ricky Eats Acid. But despite her DIY roots, she remembers an influence decidedly more mainstream. Allison recalls a love of Avril Lavigne in a January 2018 interview with The Fader: “Under My Skin was the first CD I ever owned. That’s how this person came about.” There’s a pop-punk backbone to Clean, so it’s easy to imagine the “Sk8tr Boi” singer as a very early favorite of Allison’s. Even against dreamy Deerhoof-style production, Soccer Mommy’s debut is consistently fun, with freshly journaled lyrics on top of charming lo-fi rock.
Notable Tracks: “Cool” | “Scorpio Rising” | “Your Dog”