Soccer Mommy has perfected the craft of bedroom-indie pop: songs that, despite their masterful production, feel as if they’re being played to you from her bedroom floor. Acoustic guitar? Check. Sassily-confessional lyrics? Check. But on her 2020 EP, Circle the Drain, Soccer Mommy, aka Sophie Allison, dips her toes into psychedelic rock, utilizing sounds that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Brian Jonestown Massacre album.
“Round and around,” crooned by Allison on the title track, captures the tone of the song — not in a tiresome way, but in the lilting repetition of acoustic guitar chords and the feeling that you could be listening to these lo-fi tracks on a spinning vinyl record. And don’t worry, the electrified, full-band sound doesn’t take away from the quiet, bedroom-pop intimacy that rocketed Soccer Mommy to popularity.
This song feels like sunlight, stripped of its positive connotations — the kind of bright white light that hurts your eyes, whitewashing everything into a kind of monotony. The darkness of depression is inverted, finding despair in the blaring light. The “Circle The Drain” music video opens with grainy shots of traffic lights and teens on a sidewalk before we see Soccer Mommy playing her electric guitar in a barren stretch of California desert, sunlight beating down oppressively onto the sand. It feels expansive and lonely. Soccer Mommy finds a way to make light read “melancholy.”
The lyrics of “Circle The Drain” add this depth to the music video’s imagery. “I wanna be calm like the soft // Summer rain on your back,” she opens. But in this track, she is held captive to the flame of her sadness and the glow of the television, painting a bleak portrait of depression. This is illustrated most simply in the song’s pre-chorus, in which she repeats, “Things feel that low sometimes, even when everything is fine.” Through the repetition of chords, the inescapable sheen of sunlight, and the theme of going in circles around a dark place, Soccer Mommy expertly conveys the feeling of being trapped by your own brain.
“Yellow is The Color of Her Eyes,” the second song on the EP, sticks to this theme of turning sunshine on its head. “The bright August sun feels like yellow,” she begins, but amends that thought in the chorus, singing, “It’s still so blue, // I can’t erase the hue // It’s just colored over.” In a press release, Soccer Mommy shared that this song “was inspired by a time when I was on the road constantly and I felt like I was losing time — specifically with my mother.” And the song showcases this loss, comparing her mother to a ray of light and lamenting about a future in which she’ll “feel cold as they put out my sun.”
The instrumentation in “Yellow is The Color of Her Eyes” is especially moving. The 7-minute song utilizes emotive guitar riffs in the chorus and a bombastic ending solo — plus the slow-burning descending chords and vintage-feeling vocal reverb. These elements evoke a tormented trudge forward, powerless over circumstances keeping you from a loved one. They also show her mastery over the 90s psych-rock sound. In this kind of contemplative, beautiful ode, Soccer Mommy shines.
The final track, “Lucy,” is perhaps the darkest, in a fun, gothic way. The song details a seduction by Lucifer himself — “Lucy,” to those who know him. Though most Satan-oriented tracks lean into hardcore rock territory, Soccer Mommy maintains her bright 90s guitar sheen and unwavering vocal tone, though she does weave together a descending chord progression that hints at the lurking evil beneath the surface. This is a subject matter that one wouldn’t necessarily expect from the indie songstress, but she conquers the devil in perhaps the catchiest tune on the EP.
“Circle The Drain” is a precursor to Soccer Mommy’s full-length album Color Theory, which will be released on February 28. These three singles bode well for the full release, as we see Soccer Mommy tackle a new sound, and expertly juxtapose sun-soaked instrumentation with dark, soul-searching lyrics. It’s perfect for a summer beach day or sitting alone in bed with your circling thoughts.
Featured Image: Loma Vista Recordings