Review Summary: I wish we had chances to talk like thisCollection
has no qualms about what it is, no frills to its name. It stands as Sophie Allison’s potential big break under the Soccer Mommy moniker, and it stands as – well, a collection
– of re-recorded material from a two-year career, as well as two new cuts. The lyrics are occasionally macabre, the melodies are always sickeningly sunny, and overall it’s another meticulously constructed slab of emotive bedroom pop, fit to enter a cultural Valhalla of singer-songwriters who want you to feel
, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time.
If it sounds like I’m not doing the album any favours, that’s because it’s true. It’s hard to describe what properly distinguishes Soccer Mommy from what comes before and after it, other a sense of understated and undeniable sincerity
. Some of it lies in the songwriting itself; “Inside Out” bathes in relaxed, ringing major seventh chords, before it hits you with the twinkling keyboard riff that you know
you fall for every time, and that you’ll continue to fall for. Some of it lies in the promise the improved production holds; “Out Worn” embraces the cranked reverb that fills the empty space of the record, and the slight fuzz capturing Allison’s voice as she slyly states “I could turn you inside out” finally realises the ethereality almost captured in her previous EPs. Bedroom pop is a well-worn trail, and Collection
is made of well-worn songs – yet it’s this familiarity that sets it apart, and the comfort that breeds from it is a confident comfort.
Some of it lies in the album’s ability to remain lyrically contradictory and cohesive at the same time. Despite cribbing a track or two from each of Soccer Mommy’s previous releases, Collection
consistently thrives on a banal treatment of obsessive fantasy. There’s always a sly “You smell like cigarettes and how chocolate tastes / It makes me wanna die but I guess I can wait” waiting in the wings, and a lack of chronological order in the tracklist emphasises the record’s haphazard emotionality. For every “Missed you from my bedroom,” there’s a confident “I’m sick of living in your eyes,” propping up the record before it ventures too far into sad-girl territory. Soccer Mommy plays a wry figure of power and powerlessness – often reaching for naive romanticism and self-deprecation within the same song. Since it’s all set to the indie pop tune, the defeat in pleas to “give up what you’re fighting for” in the song
“Allison” never overwhelms Allison the artist
. Everything sort of shifts into a blissful melancholic state.
The full studio treatment allows Soccer Mommy to craft some of her finest songs, but it also works against her. While the louder indie rock tracks equal or one-up their originals, the ballads suffer from a certain over-production. “3 AM at a Party” reveled as a minimalistic lament on a man who – she asserts – deserves someone better like her. Yet the gorgeous harmonies were once reserved to build on the climax's tension, and now aimlessly flutter over the song’s entire landscape. “Waiting For Cars” felt as if we could hear Allison singing from the highway; in the Collection
, however, it’s a sterile and isolated affair, as if she were locked away from the world. There’s a certain lo-fidelity atmosphere that a more professional environment can never replicate, and Soccer Mommy’s aesthetic currently owes as much to that atmosphere as it does to the music itself. There’s a sense of future potential, dampened by the reality that this potential isn’t being fully realised just yet.
Then again, in the present moment, Collection
has no qualms about what wants to be. It wants to be a reflection on the days of writing songs for the recently sad
. It wants to be the transition from one woman’s bedroom to a full band on stage. It wants to be a musical affirmation of Sophie Allison and the growing pantheon of indie rock women. And of course, it wants to get that last vocal hook in the chorus to make you feel
. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.