Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Soccer Mommy’s third album ‘Sometimes, Forever’ stuns with its brilliance

You’d be forgiven for expecting an enjoyable but slightly by-the-numbers bedroom pop record from Soccer Mommy’s latest album ‘Sometimes, Forever’. Produced by Daniel Lopatin, otherwise known as genre-defining artist Oneohtrix Point Never; ‘Sometimes, Forever’ defies these expectations to bring you something special.

Track one ‘Bones’ greets you in the traditional Soccer Mommy way: sad swaying guitar, crackling under melancholic and concisely articulated lyrics. 

However, there’s more to this than meets the eye as Daniel Lopatin’s presence soon becomes apparent. Quirky, cavernous guitars orbited by synthetic delays ornament the traditional indie-pop textures in a refreshing take on the genre. With each verse, a new sound or melody rises to the forefront. The song peaks in the outro with screaming guitars, yet its foray into noise rock is more of a transformation the whole song has been building towards, and thus feels well-earned.

Track two ‘With U’ flirts with psychedelia - enveloping you in some of the most blissful textures this side of the century. Warm mellotron sits waiting for the keen-eared’s appreciation, meanwhile, guitar parts that would sound more than at home on Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ vie for your attention. Yet the following track ‘Unholy Affliction’ couldn’t be more different; in one of the strongest offerings on this strong contender for album of the year, an almost-garage drumbeat drives a shadowy bass synth. Sophie Allison abstractly muses, “It’s all in my bones / And in my blood / So carve me up / And let the colours run”. 

The vocal sound goes from drenched in phaser, rotating into unintelligible noise to a haunting amount of reverb to accompany the grunge-influenced rhythm section underneath it. Verse to chorus transitions in songs like ‘Shotgun’ and opening track ‘Bones’ are sonically unique yet true to Soccer Mommy’s roots in bittersweet catharsis. Guitars soaring on wings of 80’s-influenced modulation are this album’s modus operandi, a respectful tribute to pioneers Duran Duran and The Police. This is truly an album unafraid to try its hand at any sound world and find a wonderfully compelling place to sit. Nowhere is this more present than ‘Newdemo’ where the string parts mesh beautifully with choral-esque backing vocals. 

Honestly, each song feels like an album worth of exploration all in itself. ‘Darkness Forever’ toys with metal harmony and compressed distorted guitars, playfully infusing alien-sounding synths - all without feeling derivative. Each moment feels agonised over, further evident in the blissful indie-pop goodness of ‘Don’t Ask Me’ - complete with brit-pop meets hair-metal guitar tones and harmonised lead lines. ‘Feel It All The Time’ is where Phoebe Bridgers’ influence is felt most: in its melancholically articulate self-doubt. Whereas ‘Fire In The Driveway’ glistens slowly as the song progresses, from the nostalgic fuzz that appears near the end to the offbeat guitar reminiscent of a 2000’s production (think The Killers or U2). 

Ever-present, Daniel Lopatin’s production truly elevates this album into utter brilliance. With every listen, each song’s texture offers you something new - a reward for your audiophile’s due diligence. It’s rare to say everything this album does it does well, rarer still to say it has a character uniquely it’s own. This album more than stands up to Jay Som’s brilliant 2019 ‘Anak Ko’ or Phoebe Bridgers’ genre-defining ‘Stranger In The Alps’ - and that is high praise. After the potential demonstrated in their second album ‘Color Theory’, this is a band that has leaped into a league of their own. 

Ashley Garrod
Image: ‘Sometimes, Forever’ Official Album Cover

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