Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, is about to release her second album, “Clean.”
While Allison attended New York University as a music business major, she decided it was time to out on tour. She built an audience through introspective bedroom recordings released via Bandcamp – many of which were rerecorded for Collection, her 2017 debut for Mississippi-based label Fat Possum, according to RollingStone.com.
Her second album for the label, “Clean,” is light-years more self-assured than her previous work. The prevailing mood is similar – “chill but kinda sad,” as she puts it in her Bandcamp bio – but the songwriting is tighter, the sound is brighter, and every emotion hits 10 times harder. It’s a confident step forward into the alt-rock canon that makes everything she’s done before now sound like an audition.
“I feel like it’s a lot better than the last one,” she says, flashing a big smile. “And I don’t really care if people say it’s not, because it definitely is!”
She chalks that growth up to a sequence of epiphanies she experienced as an NYU undergrad living away from home for the first time. “I went through a lot of maturing in a year or two,” she says.
Throughout “Clean,” in its sharp verbal punches and unhurried melodic swerves, you can hear Allison’s close study of four decades of feelings-and-guitars music. She grew up loving Taylor Swift – her 2006 self-titled debut is a favorite – and later got into timeless teen-angst bands like Sonic Youth, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Nirvana and Slowdive, followed by mid-2010s indie favorites, including Alex G and Mitski, towards the end of high school.
While Allison had been writing her own songs since age 5, she didn’t take music seriously as a life path back then. “It just seemed like if something crazy happened and I got a career started, that’d be cool, but I didn’t even know how that would happen,” she says.
By the end of her freshman year, she’d worked up the nerve to submit a demo to the influential lo-fi indie imprint Orchid Tapes, which had released Alex G’s career-making “DSU” two years earlier. Label founder Warren Hildebrand went on to release Soccer Mommy’s “For Young Hearts” in a limited edition of 100 sparkly gold cassettes in the summer of 2016. The tape, recorded mostly at her dorm room in New York’s East Village, got enthusiastic press coverage and is now a coveted collector’s item, going for as much as $70 on Discogs.