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Soccer Mommy, the band behind Nashville singer-songwriter Sophie Allison, last performed in the UK all the way back in 2018. Allison’s star has risen steadily since. Two new albums – breakthrough record Color Theory, with its unfortunate March 2020 release date, and this June’s Sometimes, Forever – have assured her place in the indie music firmament, and she drew a large and attentive (if not always outwardly exuberant) crowd at London’s Kentish Town Forum last night.
Allison is part of a recent vanguard of young, smart female songwriters, including Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who have revived the indie-rock stylings of the 1990s. Her sound – cashmere vocals, nimble lyricism, a loose, heavy wash of electric guitar – suggests her record collection might include Liz Phair, Slowdive, Garbage, and Cocteau Twins, as well as the 2000s pop punk of her childhood. Indeed, last night’s audience enjoyed an airing of Avril Lavigne’s 2002 hit Complicated just before Soccer Mommy took to the stage.
Live, the emphasis was firmly on sonic heft. Songs tended to begin with the explosive thwack of a drum, or finish with the five-piece band rocking out together. After two opening tracks from Sometimes, Forever, the energy in the Forum ignited with third song Circle The Drain, the anthem for depressed youth from 2020’s Color Theory. Yet the show risked falling into the same trap as that album: so uniformly powerful it could verge on becoming a dirge, too bound up in its own crushing world – not helped by the venue’s muddy sound quality.
Luckily, Allison’s knack for melody shone through the murk. The tracks from Sometimes, Forever – an album which made the pleasantly surprising move of enlisting experimental electronic producer Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), fresh from his work with The Weeknd – shook things up, from the menacing Unholy Affliction and the eerie synths on Darkness Forever, to the catnip riff that begins recent single Shotgun, one of her best songs yet.
The band finished with the discordant jangle of Yellow Is The Color Of Her Eyes and longstanding favourite Your Dog, the bluntly brilliant hit that drew crowds to her much smaller shows back in 2018. New and old, her songs packed a punch live – but if the placid audience and Allison’s general reticence were anything to go by, the full power of Soccer Mommy’s music might still belong to the headphones-on introspection of pandemic-era listening.
Touring the UK until Sept 24, then the US until November; soccermommyband.com