With the success of her 2018 release “Clean,” Sophie Allison, better known as her alias Soccer Mommy, is back with the heartbreakingly honest album “color theory.”
Let’s begin with the visuals of this record.
Allison has thrown away the grungy earth-toned aesthetic of her last album to follow an 8-bit video game theme. The album cover appears like it has jumped straight out of the ’80s, mirroring the way video games were packaged in the era. “Color theory” looks as though it could have been among the ranks of Atlantis or Star Voyager.
The inside booklet of the album states “Warning: Please read the consumer information and precautions booklet before playing your Soccer Mommy music entertainment system or accessory.” Below this warning is a graphic of a game controller, with labels about how the consumer selects, starts, rewinds and fast-forwards the album and songs within it.
Moving into the sound of the album, Allison has taken a dark approach while still keeping her signature starry sound and melancholy lyricism.
This album provides fuller production and instrumentals than any of her past work. Straying from observations of others, this album turns the camera back on Allison and the inner machinations of her mind.
It’s as if we’re observing Allison’s distraught memories through an opaque frame.”
The song “night swimming” gives the impression of peacefully drowning. This is the kind of song that gives you goosebumps on your skin and makes your throat tighten. The subdued but incredibly meaningful guitar blends into the background while Allison’s breathy vocals gently float above the surface.
This album isn’t just about making your eyes well up with tears, however. It’s also about coming face-to-face with your fears and insecurities. The third track on the album, “royal screw up,” approaches the idea of the damsel in distress from a different angle.
In this scenario, the vile force is the damsel herself as she goes through the song saying lines like “Now and always/ I will break my own bones/ Til’ my legs stop walking/ And my bed is my throne.” This song addresses the art of beating yourself up and how self-degradation is a form of harm that can easily be looked past. It makes you question why we consistently put ourselves down even when we know it’s not healthy.
Getting back to her upbeat but skewed sound, “lucy” is a song about fighting with the devil. Now, this isn’t a song about a fiddle-off with Lucifer, but is more about how she finds evil in her heart no matter how much she doesn’t want to find it there.
She finds herself begging “Lucy” to leave her alone, thinking she would never be at this point in her life. Toward the end of the song, she makes the realization that she’s no better than the devil. In fact, she could easily take his place in hell. By molding Lucifer’s name into a more feminine context, Allison continues to draw more lines between herself and the infernal character of “Lucy.”
Loneliness, even in presence of loved ones, is deeply rooted in “stain.” This song exemplifies how the past will always come back to haunt you, sometimes in the form of stains on bed sheets.
There’s a sense of disassociation on this song that sends pangs through your heart. It’s as if we’re observing Allison’s distraught memories through an opaque frame. You can’t quite see what’s going on, but somehow you feel the emotions of the situation deeper.
“Color theory” peels back the layers of Allison, revealing parts of her none of us knew existed.
This is her most sincere and well-produced album to date. Although it may not have the mainstream sensibilities of “Clean,” it delves into deeper waters, urging the listener to join.
Favorite Tracks: “night swimming,” “circle the drain,” “Stain”
Monty Daniel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MontyDaniel_.