Soccer Mommy on latest album Sometimes, Forever

Soccer Mommy talks to us about her new album Sometimes, Forever, working with Oneohtrix Point Never, and Nintendo GameCube game Kirby Air Ride

Feature by Laurie Presswood | 17 Jun 2022
  • Soccer Mommy, Sophie Allison

When Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison suggested that her new album was less dark than her last, her record label were unconvinced – it was hard to imagine that an album featuring a song entitled Darkness Forever could be a step down in gloom. She’s right though – Sometimes, Forever still delivers the crushing lows that enabled hours of shower-crying following the release of color theory, but this time the heavy moments are balanced against flashes of light. Sometimes, Forever takes Soccer Mommy’s talent for catchy melodies and applies them to a select few hopeful tracks – Shotgun and With U are even honest-to-goodness, soaring love songs.

Her lyrics are just as intimate as they’ve always been, whether the song is happy or sad – no doubt an influence of the heartfelt country music that infuses life growing up in Nashville. As you might expect of a teenager coming of age in the country music capital of the world, she grew sick of the genre that constantly surrounded her and mostly shunned it until she was an adult, so you won’t hear a lot of classic country in her work. But the one giveaway of her Tennessee roots are the compelling confessional narratives that live in her lyrics. She says: “If you can write a song that can be just guitar and vocals, and can be capturing people – even if you don't want to just have it sound like that – it's like you can't really do anything wrong having that kind of core.”

Allison knows where a listener’s nostalgia pressure points are – profiles on her are filled with comparisons to Liz Phair, Sleater-Kinney and Natalie Imbruglia – but she doesn’t set out to make music that sounds like it’s from the past, and if anything, the quintessential Soccer Mommy sound has come to consist of a blend of 90s grunge with more futuristic, electronic effects. Sometimes, Forever is her first time working with Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin, who has taken over from long-time Soccer Mommy producer Gabe Glass.

"I had the same feeling with Dan that I always had with Gabe," Allison says, "where I was like, ‘you get what I'm talking about.’ Because I'm just very scatterbrained… I always have these big picture ideas of the mood and the feeling that I need to get, but no idea how to get there, and I can't really describe it well. I'll just be like, ‘we need magical sounds.’ [It’s great] when you find somebody who can hear that and knows exactly what you're talking about."

Lopatin’s presence is an exciting influence on Sometimes, Forever. Soccer Mommy has never shied away from electronic tools, but now the subtle drum machines are gone and the sequencers and synthesisers have arrived in full force. Unholy Affliction, a bracing lament to the pursuit of perfection within the machinery of the music industry, was led by a sequencer track Lopatin had messed around with back at his Airbnb. 

“We went in and recorded a full live band take that was just straightforward, similar to the demo, and was basically exactly like the portion you hear later on in the song." Allison later adds: "We were like, we should just have Rollum [Haas, drums] go in there and just kind of go crazy over it and see what happens.”

The resulting track merges two distinct recordings of Unholy Affliction – the high-quality live-band track (albeit with vocals taken straight out of Allison’s home-made demo, complete with headphone bleed), and the synthesised version. This feels almost symbolic of the album as a whole, where an emphasis on getting a live sound has led to incredible drum-driven moments (like the live band in the second verse of Unholy Affliction, or the popping drums that ricochet throughout Shotgun), which sit perfectly alongside electronic flourishes, like With U's kaleidoscopic intro.

The place where Allison most consciously seeks out nostalgia is actually in her visuals – anyone who has been following her career up to this point will have noticed her fondness for 2000s gaming. At this point more of her music videos have featured gaming visuals than not, but last year’s rom com 2004 was the first to offer a fully fleshed out playable world of its own (think Gen Z’s answer to the video for Californication).

“I miss the fluffy little stuff," Allison says. "One of my favourite ones was this game Kirby Air Ride, where you're one of many Kirbies riding around in a city trying to…" she tails off, before concluding: "I don't really understand the point of the game except that it was fun. And it was almost a free-roam type thing. I wanted [rom com 2004] to have that kind of vibe, like this ridiculous free-roam GameCube city.”

Allison and her band are set to tour the UK in September, and though she’s been open about not quite knowing what to make of the weather, or the food, when she first toured here, she says she’s come to love it. She doesn’t even need any recommendations for where to go when she reaches Glasgow on 24 September, she has the name of the restaurant she’s headed for locked and loaded... it’s Mother India.

Sometimes, Forever is released on 24 Jun via Loma Vista; Soccer Mommy plays QMU, Glasgow, 24 Sep