Soccer Mommy – Color Theory
Indie Rock | Dream Pop
It took me a long while to really notice it at first, but running a music blog has a drastic effect on your listening habits. At one point discovering a new album that I loved would keep me occupied for months before I’d move on to my next craze. While I naturally discover a lot more music now than ever before, I don’t have much chance to get settled before feeling obliged to move on to covering another new release and promoting another up-and-coming act. Reflecting on it I don’t regret the shift for the most part, but there are odd instances where it feels like something is missing. Even listening to an album on repeat for hours on end doesn’t always yield the full picture. Sometimes you only really grasp an album several years down the line, which is something that no review (no matter how thorough) can ever truly account for.
Though I spent a bit of time with Soccer Mommy’s debut Clean back in 2018, I never ended up covering it as at the time it felt outshone by other records. Since then however I’ve found a greater appreciation for its moments of brilliance. The small glimpses of lush soundscapes rising above the more folky arrangements like mountains looming over empty plains. In finally checking out the follow up Colour Theory from earlier this year I was delighted to find that these more lush arrangements now make up the backbone of the new record.
This more expansive second outing is the kind of record that you can get lost in. The reverb drenched ‘night swimming’ with its muffled samples of crowd noises is reminiscent of the most entrancing of daydreams. The crystalline vocals are all that matters as the rest of the world just feels like a murmur in the distance. The hazy wonderland of ‘yellow is the color of her eyes’ is a strong contender for the most lush track of the year. The album’s seven minute centrepiece opens with the lavish hum of a Wurlitzer before letting a steady stream of soft psychedelic riffs drift over you as you sink deeper into this Elysian otherworld. Even when the album dips back into Sophie Allison’s folkier side it manages to adorn it with an ethereal dream pop vibe, like with the silken synth backdrop of ‘up the walls’.
Overall Color Theory is a far more assured offering. The arrangements are divine, and Sophie’s vocals and lyricism have both really grown in just a brief couple of years. This is especially true on the verses of ‘circle the drain’; the lyrics unfurl in a really satisfying way and feature the album’s most gorgeous melodies to boot. The record does lose a bit of steam over the last couple of tracks, but I think that’s a symptom of the album’s only main issue – it’s pacing. On Clean the rhythm section felt really dynamic and expressive, one of the release’s finer points in fact, but Color Theory marches on at much the same languid pace throughout without any real variations or flourishes to speak of. It makes the tracks blend together far more, which is a bit of a barrier to the record being intended as a loose concept album split into three distinct sections.
Maybe a couple of years will again serve to iron over the few minor faults of this latest effort. You don’t need to look back through the lens of hindsight, or with the wisdom of more years under your belt, to see the musical growth that has been made already however. Color Theory takes all the finest parts of the first record and works to refine and expand on them. If that trend continues for the next release then I may well have to shift my listening habits once again to ensure I have ample time to bask in its glow.