Making it poppy is this weird cry for help

Soccer Mommy’s 2018 album, Clean, was a stunning, expectation-shattering debut. The record, released when Sophie Allison was just 20 years old, found its way into the top 10 of year-end lists by Paste, Stereogum, The Ringer and even the New York Times, where it landed at No. 1.

But Clean is also an intensely sad album. Amid the buzz of Soccer Mommy’s meteoric rise from a post-college-dropout project to a zeitgeist-shifting, late-night TV show-headlining indie band, it can be easy to forget just how sentimental Allison is as a songwriter — and how integral that sentimentality was to her success.

Color Theory, Soccer Mommy’s latest record, makes that fact impossible to ignore. The album, which is already being heralded as a confident, star-making effort, is unapologetically sad.

And that’s exactly why it works so well. The 10 track album, which is split into three sections based on three cumbersome emotions (blue for depression; yellow for anxiety; gray for death and loss) is jam-packed with the same sort of somber lyrics that made Clean such a powerful debut.

Except this time, Allison’s words have gotten sharper — and so has her musicianship. Color Theory is drenched in a wildly specific brand of pop-focused, early 2000s-rock nostalgia, the kind that wouldn’t have felt too out of place in the background of an American Pie movie two decades ago.

The songs aren’t bubbly by any means (in fact they’re often downright grungy) but the familiarity — and catchiness — of those pop music tropes serves as the perfect pairing for Allison’s weighty lyrics. In making her sadness so weightless, she makes it accessible, and, more importantly, cathartic.

“It’s about having depressive episodes and withdrawing myself into isolation,” Allison told Pitchfork in a breakdown of the record’s second track, “Circle the Drain.” “Making it poppy is this weird cry for help while being like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this.'”

On Color Theory, Soccer Mommy copes with isolation, self-destructive behaviors and family tragedy (including the slow, terminal illness of her mother, who is currently in good condition). But she packages, enhances and ultimately explores those emotions through her music, which is as stylish and appealing as anything being made in indie rock today. 

Sophie Allison might be sad, but she’s working on it — and her music is only getting better as she does.

The *also* most important

Bernie Sanders is still the best at taking money from millionaires: Did a presidential candidate break up Public Enemy? Maybe, if you ask Flavor Flav. The rapper has apparently been fired (which is apparently how rap groups work?) from Public Enemy after he tried to stop his bandmates from performing at one of Sanders’ rallies.

You don’t need an elementary school education to get a record deal: North West is making a bid to take over the family business (at least one of them) a lot sooner than her dad might have expected. The 6-year-old, clad in a puffy jacket fit that would make even an 11-year-old jealous, made her rap debut with a short verse at Kanye’s latest Yeezy fashion show.

Big bops, new tunes

Haim is back, in the most Haim way imaginable: The Haim sisters are known for a few specific things, including guitar-twanged pop songs, music videos directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and, well, being sisters. All three of those things (and more!) made a return this week, when the band announced their new album, Women In Music Pt. III, complete with some suggestive album art and a new track with an accompanying video directed by Anderson.

Social media flex of the week

Lil Uzi Vert is back, but his fanny pack game is really back: Uzi shared a wild, sci-fi themed trailer for his long-awaited album, Eternal Atake, this week. But more importantly, he shared a behind-the-scenes Instagram post of his outfit from the video, which features a downright military amount of body storage.

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