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CD of The Week

Week of 6/27/22

    Soccer Mommy - Sometimes, Forever (Loma Vista / Concord)

    Sophie Allison has already spent so much of her career as Soccer Mommy mining the depths of dark emotions that it's no wonder she was ready to take a pause. Though breakthrough albums Clean and color theory made her an instant indie-rock darling with high-profile fans ranging from Liz Phair to Kacey Musgraves, she described feeling "menaced by a creeping feeling" that had her contemplating self-harm and on the verge of canceling a tour that should have been a crowning moment for her. COVID ultimately handled the latter while she started pouring the feelings that triggered the former into the songs that make up her new album, Sometimes, Forever. As bracing and beautiful as anything she's done to date, it finds Allison staring deeper into the darkness without forgetting to let in some light.

    In an inspired twist, the light comes courtesy of another unexpected fan, Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never. Hot off of his success producing movie soundtracks and Weeknd albums, Lopatin manages to simultaneously broaden the negative space within Allison's songs while brightening the synth textures that made color theory such an invigorating listen. The result is a set of songs that manage to transcend the '90s nostalgia that plagues a lot of Allison's contemporaries and becomes something better, employing not just those formative sounds but the real emotional turmoil that often inspired them in the first place.

    Said turmoil wastes no time infiltrating the mood in opener "Still.” Guitars glimmer around Allison's sobering account of cutting herself to feel something, anything besides the numbness that consumes her. Elsewhere, "Unholy Affliction" zeroes in how empty her newfound success feels in light of this numbness, remarking on how she's "barely a person, mechanically working." Her mechanical mindset is matched by Lopatin's production, which Frankensteins the dueling discordance of Nine Inch Nails and Stina Nordenstam together and makes the seams sparkle. The aptly titled "Darkness Forever" plays that discordance and doubt out to their natural conclusions, playing out suicidal ideations over alternately nagging and gnarling guitars that recall Garbage emulating Portishead on their own post breakthrough hangover beautifulgarbage. Here, the message across these songs is money and recognition can only do so much to quiet the anxiety and doubt coming from inside the house.

    Fortunately, as its title implies, other highlights on the album show that most bad feelings, however big, are only temporary and often alleviated by making lasting connections with the outside world. "With U" finds Allison telling a loved one that "being with you is all I can do" while synths bubble over to mimic the stars and moon that just can't compare. Lead single "Shotgun" takes that connection and Allison's guitars and blows them up to Loveless proportions. When she pledges "whenever you want me, I'll be around. I'm a bullet in a shotgun waiting to sound", it's the most masterful metaphoric mix of promise and threat since Lauren Mayberry gave us "Gun" ten years prior with CHVRCHES.

    In short, Sophie Allison feels the good things as intensely as the bad, and one cannot exist without the other. Both are certainly essential to making Sometimes, Forever as excellent and exorcising as it is, and Soccer Mommy one of the strongest voices for all of us struggling with ongoing anxiety and depression about life and the world to have at the moment. Feelings may very well persist forever but finding validation in music like this can help keep them at bay sometimes.

    Soccer Mommy will be bringing some much needed catharsis to The Franklin Music Hall on November 11th.
    Review by Rob Huff

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