Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's skateboard time.
Soccer Mommy is back. Maintaining her steady drip-feed of releases over the past three years, Soccer Mommy's (Sophie Allison) Color Theory is on its way into our 2020 playlists on February 28th (via Loma Vista). We had previously been treated to two singles off the new album, 'lucy' and 'yellow is the color of her eyes', both singles demonstrating a maturation and dexterity in Allison’s song-writing capabilities which left me excited to hear more. Her latest single circle the drain arrived earlier this week.
Allison’s voice is immediately reminiscent of Alex Menne, the lead vocals behind indie rock darlings Great Grandpa. In fact, 'circle the drain' evokes a strong nostalgia to that first time I listened to 'grandpa's 'Mono No Aware', and I mean that in the best of ways. The drums are punchy and tight but achieve little beyond “doing the job”. So often is the case with singer-songwriters, at least one instrument is destined to take the backseat; only a prodigal few possess the ability to champion full-band instrumentation as tastefully as the real deal.
The rest of the instrumentation is excellent, however. An acoustic guitar is the crisp driving force behind this sun-drenched ballad, with pedal-soaked lead lines percolating behind the scenes but never threatening to steal away the limelight from Allison's contiguous vocals. Synthesisers fill out the space during the choruses and every transition feels smooth and effortless. It’s easy to be swept up into the clouds by Boone Wallace and Gabe Wax's production, only to find yourself back in the room 4 minutes later wondering where the time went.
Unfortunately, what really lets the song down are its lyrics. There seems to be a re-invigoration of 90s “LA-narcissism” invading the lyrics of many new-wave indie singer-songwriters these days, and its hackneyed features can be found here too: the misunderstood narrator, social anxiety, some hip youth activity like skateboarding or maybe spitting on traffic. The only things these lyrics are missing is a half-lit ciggie and a forty-ounce of malt liquor and voila – you’ve got yourself the script to a multi-million dollar Netflix series marketed towards fourteen-year-olds who’ve just listened to Fall Out Boy for the first time.
This has been done so many times before, Lord knows I’ve written a few like this. But at least I’m not trying to make you buy a new album or to come see me on tour. Ultimately, after three full length releases it’s probably time for Sophie Allison to stub out those Lucky Strikes and say something new.
Ultimately, I like 'circle the drain'. It’s not Allison’s finest work to date, but the sum of its parts makes up for a few pitfalls along the way, and it certainly demonstrates a step-up in musicality from her previous efforts. The song gave me Teenage Dirtbag vibes and just look at how successful that made Wheatus. I’d give this one a listen.
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Tom Keogh is a 21 year old English Literature student at King’s College London. He enjoys making music, visiting the bin and supporting shit football teams because he got into the sport late.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England. Subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a post is published on the site.