Soccer Mommy’s success has rested on her ability to distil 20-something disillusionment and weave it into her deeply nostalgic brand of guitar-fueled pop. With her new album, Sometimes, Forever, Sophie Allison reveals herself to be an absolute master of retro-melancholia, filling her lyrics with the hallmarks of an anxiety-ridden generation (“Coffee and menthol on your breath”). In doing so, Soccer Mommy gives narrative order to the odyssey years of early adulthood. Sometimes, Forever is all long car journeys across state lines, squeaky high school changing rooms, and forbidden cigarettes smoked on the low-slung roof of a suburban home. These evocative images are ideally suited to Soccer Mommy’s 1990s and early 2000s sonic fetishism, even if the bulk of them feel as though they’ve been plucked from the filmography of Gregg Araki.
Sometimes, Forever could easily be read as an ode to classic pop songwriting. Even with psych-tinged offerings like ‘With U’, the chorus of which bears an uncanny resemblance to ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, Allison’s concrete song structures shine through. She’s so damn good at weaving cyclical verses into earth-shattering choruses that an overwhelming sense of euphoria is practically inevitable. With that, she’s also a shapeshifter. In ‘Unholy Affliction’, Allison moves from Disneyfied emo princess to dark-jazz explorer. The album’s third track unfolds in a ripple of complex beats, distorted bass, and Burial-esque loops. Amid all this, Allison offers up introspective fragments like “I’m barely a person,” adding to the swirling sense of disenfranchisement, isolation, and apathy at the heart of Soccer Mommy’s craft.
The melancholic tones of ‘Unholy Affliction’ are quickly countered with ‘Shotgun’. Of the album’s defiant lead single, Soccer Mommy said: “‘Shotgun’ is all about the joys of losing yourself in love. I wanted it to capture the little moments in a relationship that stick with you.” It’s not the huge parties and impossible-to-replicate moments that stick, it’s the everyday joys that anyone can have: “Cold beer and ice cream is all we keep / The only things we really need”. Unfortunately, this appreciation of the small things is, more often than not, absent from Sometimes, Forever. It’s an album that sells itself as being a little rough-around-the-edges. Tracks like ‘new demo’ are meant to convey the slap-dash, lo-fi approach that defined Allison’s early releases on Bandcamp. It’s supposed to sound like an imperfect masterpiece, but there are numerous occasions when Sometimes, Forever feels as though Oneohtrix Point Never-produced record has been honed within an inch of its life.
‘Darkness Forever’ represents an imaginative high-point in the album. With its 2000s R&B beats and sludge-core basslines, the track feels like an experiment in juxtaposition. It’s pretty inventive, but it’s also a little exaggerated. Still, it’s rather astonishing that Allison has crafted a track that could feasibly be a hit both with Billie Eilish fans and doom-metal heads. She reins things in a little for the next track, ‘Don’t Ask Me’. Comprised of swirling guitars, ever-flowing melodies, and soaring choruses, the road-ready anthem sees Soccer Mommy back doing what she does best. Why she didn’t release the track as a single, I don’t know.
From here on out, Sometimes, Forever gets better and better, offering sonic respite in the form of ‘Fire In The Driveway’, a slow-burner two parts Elliot Smith and one part LSD and The Search For God. ‘Following Eyes’ sees Soccor Mommy slink back into her shell slightly, but she comes right back out again once the chorus hits; sun-drenched melodies bleeding into the intoxicating surf-infused churn of ‘Feel It All The Time’. Allison closes the album with ‘Still’, a track that seeks to dissolve all the darkness in Sometimes, Forever. It’s not necessarily the bravest or most experimental song on the album, but it’s honest and that counts for a lot.