Long-time fans of the music of Sophie Allison—better known as Soccer Mommy—are well aware that trying to pick out just one example of her arresting lyricism as the most quotable moment on an album is a needle-in-a-haystack proposition. But one line stands out as the most bluntly emblematic on her third release Sometimes, Forever, from the song “Don’t Ask Me”: “I don’t feel the same.” It’s not hard to tell. Sometimes, Forever sees Allison gleefully expanding her aesthetic, tone, and sonic horizons, and hitting every beat as she does so.
In many ways, Sometimes, Forever, produced by Oneohtrix Point Never‘s Daniel Lopatin, picks up where color theory left off—continuing the deliberate yet resoundingly organic migration away from the intimate, folksy minimalism that characterized Allison’s debut and toward a more upbeat sound that will have listeners prone to forms of movement beyond drying their eyes. If her sophomore effort was that journey’s halfway mark, then Sometimes, Forever feels like the triumphant conclusion. Allison has taken a turn toward unapologetic pop, and she’s sounding more glowingly powerful than ever before.
From the effects-laden waterfall of soloing that kicks off the second track “With U,” to the joyful explosion of three-chord fuzz that is “Don’t Ask Me,” Allison has packed this album with bursting choruses and syrupy, dazzling melodies wrapped in a euphoric bubble, and that’s just hearing them through earbuds. One imagines that seeing some of these tracks performed live might well be tantamount to a spiritual experience.
Allison experiments with a variety of new sounds on Sometimes, Forever. Its 11 tracks comprise her most musically diverse release yet, branching out from her classic brand of quiet melancholia and embracing a number of new stylistic approaches. The rumbling drone of synths that underly the sinister single “Unholy Affliction” turn Soccer Mommy’s music into something positively gothic, while the roaring distortion of the gloomy guitars in the “Darkness Forever” even carries a trace of Black Sabbath. Her ability to tie all this variation together into a coherent offering while maintaining a clear-cut Soccer Mommy sound and personality is credit to Allison’s songwriting chops.
The only criticism worth leveling at Sometimes, Forever might be in contrast to Allison’s previous albums, which were defined by their seemingly effortless ability to evoke real feelings of intense connection and understanding—magical, meditative moments of starlit vulnerability, a musical hug, a warm mug of hot chocolate for the soul. Here, such moments are rather less frequent, though not vanishing entirely; tracks “Fire In The Driveway” and “Still” have that old splash of the sitting-on-a-roof-in-the-moonlight quality about them.
The inclusion of these anthemic pop choruses does, to some degree, mean sacrificing some of the emotional nuance. But in the moments when those sweet melodies hit, and the elation pretty much lifts you out of your very skin, it’s hard to feel this it isn’t a fair compromise. After all, Allison has just released her third album, and I’m already excited for her fourth.
Label: Loma Vista