Sometimes, Forever, the third LP by Soccer Mommy, (a musician who is neither a soccer athlete nor a mommy) is expansive, obsessive, uneven, yet thoroughly enjoyable (so, exactly like a Soccer Mom...my). It may also make you want to check in on Sophie Allison, the 25-year-old musician behind the moniker, because each of the 11 tracks plays out like a person exorcizing their demons. And she’s got a lot of them.
Love, expression, depression, fire, blood, guns, knives, it’s all there, alternatingly lush and spare, but with questions left unresolved. Like, does anything even matter? Is Mommy okay?
Does anything even matter? Is Mommy okay?
After the mournful opener “Bones,” moody, reverbed disaffection takes over on “With U,” a song as humid as a summer evening… after soccer practice. I can only assume the title is a reference to the absolute confection that is Jessica Simpson’s 2003 hit “With You,” subsequently covered by Waxahatchee for HBO’s Girls. Unfortunately, the Simpson track unironically bangs, and it’s better than Mommy’s original.
Then there’s “Unholy Affliction,” the first of several startlingly goth, New Wave-ish tracks. Gone are Mommy’s Liz Phair-informed indie rock tricks, instead, she leans into a newfound sparseness, and she builds upon it in the songs that follow.
“Darkness Forever” is a spooky meditation on suicidal ideation, which evokes Sylvia Plath in content and Billie Eilish in sound. The synth syncopation of “Following Eyes” brings in the light: Mommy’s pop tracks are grimmer than they’ve ever been.
Case in point: “Shotgun.” “Whenever you want me, I’ll be around/I’m a bullet in a shotgun waiting to sound,” Mommy insists on the song. It was released as a single, and the why is obvious: it’s sunny and melodic with a chorus that sticks. But…and I really hate to do this….shotguns don’t use bullets. They use shells. Mommy clearly does not own a gun. Or a shotgun. I don’t know if this was an intentional choice meant to convey Mommy’s state of waiting to be summoned, hoping someone will pull the trigger to fire her (who can’t relate?), but the metaphor isn’t really accurate. Hey, love makes us all do crazy things, like make imperfect analogies, right? Right? And don’t get me started on the music video, which uses miniatures to build a tiny version of Mommy’s bedroom, like something straight out of the 2018 horror flick Hereditary. More like Scary Mommy.
But Mommy is in her mid-20s, so compared to the ballistic (wink) “Shotgun,” “Don’t Ask Me” feels like an anthem for post-breakup exhaustion that causes straight girls to cut bangs and my ex-boyfriends to move to Denver. Mommy chooses a third route: wallowing. At least, I think that’s what’s happening here. “I’m no longer aching,” she sings. “I’m no longer chasing, I’m no longer searching for something that could set me free from who I am."
Is this the calm after the desolation of “Darkness Forever”? Has Mommy accepted who she is, or has she given up on trying to accept it? Is that a form of acceptance in itself? What compels us to ponder the nature of existence when the demise of humanity feels imminent anyway? What does a horseshoe do? Is anyone even reading this? …Mommy?
For legal reasons, I probably can’t say that from the arrangement, lyrical content, and execution, “Fire In The Driveway” is a Lucy Dacus song left off of her 2021 album Home Video. I will say that it's thrumming and plaintive and someone might say derivative… Some. I’ll leave it there.
Now, “Feel It All The Time'' is a standout; three-plus minutes of pure nihilism. The speaker (Mommy?) laments her exhaustive search for meaning and convinces herself there isn’t any to be found. It’s delicious! The constant crush of existing, the devastation of being “22 going on 23,” and “already worn down from everything,” as Mommy sings. When I was 22 going on 23, I lived in a disaster of an apartment with two uncommunicative Craigslist people (one of whom spent her rent money on Coachella tickets and the other moved her parents in with us), was a month out from losing my first proper post-college job, six weeks from training at a bar that had an ebola scare during my first shift, and a year from packing up the New York dream and heading for my hometown of Philly. Go Birds. And despite all of the hours I spent sobbing at a pizza place post-therapy (and at least once while comedian Reggie Watts looked on in horror), I wore my rose-colored glasses for the whole period.
So I admire Mommy for not being ashamed to address the burnout. Old folks are waiting behind every corner to do a “Kids these days!” jump scare, and they’re wrong. Look around, man. The kids are not all right. They’re trapped between two settings—None and Too Much—both of which are unmanageable. Mommy knows best.