By Paris Fawcett
I’ve spent many a night sat in my room alone, running over thoughts and overthinking scenarios, making up my mind and trying to forget about the ways I’ve failed. I have a tendency to live in my head and convince myself that time stops when I’m in this place. Soccer Mommy (Sophie Allison) describes this state so simply as being “clean”, the helpless feeling of being stuck waiting, neglecting to remember that the world continues to turn.
Venturing out of the recording confines of her bedroom, Clean is Allison’s first attempt at a full album; fitting for a collection of songs this innocent, with such naivety in their lyrical content. There’s a level of intimacy in the way you can hear her fingers scrape across the fretboard during ‘Blossom’ or the soft-spoken intro to ‘Skin’. There’s an unshakeable feeling of being inside Allison’s brain throughout these songs. Just as they are melodic, swooning songs, they’re raw unfiltered thought processes. You’re right there with Allison as she untangles everything around her.
Not only does the album title represent a frame of mind, it also serves to represent the bright, clean guitars that open up the album on ‘Still Clean’, giving an unmistakable feeling of summer, a light that has found itself intertwined with the sadness in Allison’s voice. It’s this that stops the album from breaking my heart upon every listen. To those who have felt what Allison sings about, the opening song picks at you and wears you down, you’re exposed to remembering long-past feelings and times you’d rather forget.
“In the summer
You said you loved me like an animal
Stayed beside me
Just enough to keep your belly full”
It’s the feeling of opening up your heart to someone and them coming in and stripping it of all it had to give. You dive into the water and save them from drowning but end up underwater yourself, with nobody willing to help. You’re the one they want for a “little while” and nothing more, what feels like everything to you is just them surviving, yet the love still remains.
It’s not all sweetness and a thirst for love in the mind of Soccer Mommy though, as indicated in ‘Your Dog’. Opening up with the assertive “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog”, the song serves as a reminder that although captivated by love, she’s conscious of the way she has been mistreated. It shows a level of self-awareness that can often be blocked by youth’s enamouring ignorance.
The charm of naive love is expressed through Allison’s lyricism, you can picture her longingly staring at someone across the room, a little piece of her heart breaking as they smile at someone else. All the things she wants to say: “I wanna be the one you’re kissing when you’re stoned” during ‘Skin’, the chain of events she imagines unwinding as she navigates an ever-troublesome youth. ‘Scorpio Rising’ continues the theme of planning out your life with someone who spends their time swooning over the perfect girl, the feeling of your life revolving around someone who doesn’t even know you exist.
The theme of yearning to be someone else flows through this album. Allison’s soft-spoken vocal floats around as she acquaints us with the character of Mary in ‘Cool’. The 90s alt-rock vibes ensue as she sings an ode to the girl she wants to be just like, the kind of person who will “break you down and eat you whole”, who treats boys “like a fucking toy”, the “stoner girl” who could never possibly suffer from the same problems that Allison does. This song – like the rest of Clean – is riddled with a level of romanticism, whether that be in her longing to be the girl that others dream about, or her fascination with creating storylines in her head.
Clean is a charming coming-of-age story, the navigations of a young woman figuring out the person she wants to be; manoeuvring life, falling in love and opening up her heart to be broken. Soccer Mommy has a voice that sends shivers down your spine as she makes you remember the all too familiar feeling of being left out in the cold. From the piano tingle as ‘Skin’ closes to the peaceful interlude near the end of the album, Clean never falters to escort you to dreamland, the place where Sophie Allison resides.