On her new Loma Vista Recordings album color theory, which drops on February 28, Nashville’s Sophie Allison—who goes by Soccer Mommy—presents a subtly gripping, somewhat chilled-out, indie rock contemplation of losing your way in life. Her lyrics poignantly address both self-doubts and mishaps creeping up in relationships with others, and her finely tuned and straightforward sincerity really helps this album land pretty powerfully.
No matter the twists of the music, throughout the entire album, Soccer Mommy always returns to her core of gently progressing melody that gradually encircles the listener like wisps of smoke which are in turn overlaid with her lyrics that feel like poetically refined, sincere, emotional takes from her own life.
Vocally, Allison sounds like she’s poignantly beseeching listeners to really pay attention to what she has to say. There’s no bombast in sight. Instead, her gently wavering tones communicate a kind of intense earnestness that feels like the experience of finally sitting down with a friend who has a lot to share.
The album’s rhythms float along with the understated determination of a boat with the motor turned off getting gradually pushed towards the shore by the waves. (To go along with the metaphor, perhaps that boat is where that meeting with an old friend is taking place.) Musically, nothing on color theory ever feels overstated. Instead, the core guitar and bass set-up guide listeners through Allison’s sometimes-melancholic but always honest-feeling explorations of the moments when life kind of grinds to a possibly depressing halt.
She’s got plenty of superb flourishes here, all of which add to the feeling of dynamics that are communicating a very real-world perspective ready for listeners to engage with. Some of the riffs at spots like the track “yellow is the color of her eyes” shimmer with a kind of subtle, surf rock atmosphere, and at other points, like the song “crawling in my skin,” really catchy low-end bass groove gets a chance to shine. Poignant moments also include occasional slowdowns (like on “royal screw up”) into just about nothing but guitar strumming and Allison’s singing.
Some of the melodies on color theory feel surprisingly chill and suave considering the dour perspectives in some of the lyrics, which makes for a startling contrast. But isn’t that kind of what life in our current state of affairs tends to constitute in general? Those dynamics add to the refreshing and subtly cathartic sincerity that poignantly define color theory.