Collection | Soccer Mommy
For starters, it’s pretty impressive that Sophie Allison managed to record an entire album with what sounds like one synth patch, one guitar tone and one general feeling. They are, respectively, bright, bright, and sullen. Cataloguing life’s minutiae is the meat and bones of indie music, maybe of all music, and Allison is no different: broken relationships, crushes on some cool guy who you always see at shows, fear of talking to that cute stranger on the bus. They all dutifully appear as themes on this rollercoaster of the artist’s past and present. The music is honest and frankly charming, exemplifying everything everyone loved about Pavement, a young Elliott Smith, or Built to Spill. She’s unafraid of being overly twee or sappy while simultaneously being just that, with a boldness (and mastering budget) that gives her album strength when it would have sounded weak coming out of a lesser artist’s mouth.
It’d be too easy to dismiss Collection is as sadgirl music and move on. Straight-up cringeworthy lyrics like “I wanna kill myself / I wanna go to hell / I’m gonna do it” on “Death By Chocolate” bely a soundscape rich with radiant guitar strumming, that one synth patch that she has on every song, and a quilt of cooed background vocals. The shimmering final product would fit in practically any teen drama, and there’s something to be said for those long-shadow scenes after school where the main character walks home crying to some new, hip band. I say all of this without antipathy — Soccer Mommy’s sound is so straightforwardly lifted from the exact thematic palette that gave us teenage joys like The OC or Rilo Kiley that I can’t believe her choices are anything but intentional.
That leaves the listener with an album of songs that don’t need to be intellectualized or engaged to death: Collection’s 8 songs pass through your life like the highway wind from your best friend’s front seat; each one a fleeting moment of melancholy wrapped in a sunset-tinted breath of ocean air. And it’s unobtrusive and praiseworthy in it’s self awareness, if nothing else. Rarely does an artist choose to make an album that embodies Sixpence None The Richer were they to drop the religious shtick and take up a more hip, depressed, and aggressively “2017” outlook on life and music. That is grounds enough for someone, somewhere to write a scathing review of this straight-to-cassette album, but for me, it’s a pleasant soundtrack for a bike ride to a friend’s house in the late summer sunshine.