Monday, March 2, 2020

Review: Color Theory • Soccer Mommy



Most young music fans want to be just like their favorite artists when they grow up. Very few protégés achieve their goal, and even fewer end up even cooler than their predecessors. Sophie Allison is among the luckiest ones.

Releasing music as Soccer Mommy, Allison produces lo-fi alternative rock for a pop fan’s ear. She occupies a space that adult contemporary staples once dominated – Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette come to mind – but has pioneered a new era to experiment with its boundaries. On her sophomore major label record, Color Theory, breezy guitar licks and easy melodies underplay her bleak emotional lows: Though loneliness and fear sweep over her, the tormenting emotions are translated into dysphoria.

“Circle the Drain,” the record's brightest moment, hypnotizes so strongly with its circling melody and tight percussion that it’s easy to disassociate it from its imagery of Allison’s determination swirling down that drain. “Bloomstream” and “Lucy” blossom with light psychedelic instrumental breaks, each deflecting some tension as Allison grapples with her mortality. And she perhaps best tailors her soundscape to match her downward spiral on “Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes,” her hazy melody trying to slow time as it slips through her fingers.

Color Theory may not be the appropriate title for the record. Until it reaches its slow-burner conclusion with “Stain” and “Gray Light,” much of the record swirls into one brand-appropriate guitar-dominated palette. That isn’t to say, however, that it isn’t a complex, alluring record: Like most of 20-somethings, Allison has transitioned from defiant youth to unsure young adulthood without preparedness. She has no idea where she's going – but luckily, neither do we. Together, our collective ignorance remains bliss.

Color Theory is available now under Loma Vista Recordings.

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Maira Gall