Sophie Allison moves away from her folky roots to create something rawer, fuzzier and more experimental
Sometimes, Forever is Sophie Allison (aka Soccer Mommy)’s third album, and there seems to be a sense of gears being changed. When she first appeared, Allison was pigeon-holed with the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus as spearheading a new wave of young, female singer-songwriters. Which is true, but Sometimes, Forever demonstrates that there’s plenty more to Allison than first meets the eye.
It’s not that the album is a massive departure for Allison, it’s more that it sees her expanding her musical palette somewhat, moving away from her folky roots to create something rawer, fuzzier and more experimental. The presence of Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never has a lot to do with this, but he’s wise enough to never lose focus on the fact that Allison is an extremely strong songwriter.
It all adds up to Sometimes, Forever being Soccer Mommy’s most diverse album yet. So the big enormous choruses of With U can sit next to the dark, grimy atmospherics of Unholy Affliction, and it can still seem seamless. Likewise, the second half of the record sees Allison returning to her acoustic roots on Fire On The Driveway, while also dipping into some swampy, dark guitar riffs on Darkness Forever. In other hands, it could all be a bit disorientating, but Allison and Lopatin keep the album focused and on track.
There’s a lovely, wistful tone to most of the album. Bones opens the album on a bittersweet tone, with Allison singing that “I wanna scream when you don’t look at me like you did back then”, while Shotgun, opening with a twangy surf guitar riff, settles down into one of the biggest, breeziest pop songs you’ll hear all year, with Allison delivering a giddy rush of a chorus proclaiming “whenever you want me, I’ll be around”.
From its title alone, you’d imagine newdemo would be a lo-fi meander, but it actually showcases the two sides of the album perfectly – starting off with an acoustic hush, but as the song progresses, Lopatin adds more and more texture to the sound. There’s also a glorious nod to fully fledged country-pop on Feel It All The Time, in which Allison bears an uncanny vocal resemblance to none other than Sheryl Crow.
Lyrically, it’s about as dark as you’d expect – Darkness Forever seems to allude to Sylvia Plath, with its references to heads in the oven and drowning in the ocean, while Unholy Affliction nods to a deep dissatisfaction with the music industry, with lyrics like “I’m sick of all the money and all the talking at me… I’m barely a person, mechanically working”. The closing Still may sound like a calm, warm end to the album, but dig deeper and there are lyrics alluding to self-harm and crippling anxiety.
This may all make Sometimes, Forever sound like a difficult listen, but it’s probably the most accessible Soccer Mommy album to date. With three studio albums in the last four years, it seems like Sophie Allison’s career trajectory is only becoming steeper and steeper.