Maybe one of the paradoxically worst and best feelings is getting out of the bed, prying open the blinds and being blinded by the brightness outdoors. There’s the warmth within sheets and pillows, unlimited privacy within four walls in a dark room. But on the other side of the wall are opportunities for new experiences and growth. Sophie Allison, who records as Soccer Mommy, writes music that lives in the moments where you find yourself trapped between those two feelings; the little anxieties that bridge life events. On her recently released album For Young Hearts, she ruminates on the uneasiness of youth in transition with the prudence of someone twenty years her senior. “You don’t smoke weed or face your favorite fears and your dreams / the point of being seventeen” she sings on “Grown”, her voice exuding a loving disappointment.
For all of the freedom that comes with writing and recording an instant classic on your laptop in bed, the label of “bedroom pop” is somewhat misguided. An idealized image of a recluse, shuttered away from the world, writing songs in the dark, valuing artistic capital through depression. So-called bedroom pop musicians are sensitive and perpetually misunderstood, able to hone that rejection into meaningful art from the comfort of a space less than 200 square feet. But that isn’t reality. We all have to go outside eventually. So what happens when you have to actually leave your bedroom, your comfort, or your home?
“For me it kind of captures the feelings of being on the edge of youth and adulthood”
“Leaving Nashville was pretty hard for me,” Sophie told me. Recently out of high school and working towards a Music Business degree at NYU, the transition from hometown to cosmopolitan metropolis is hard enough without also managing schoolwork and a burgeoning recording project. “It’s not a small town, but it feels a lot more homey than New York. If I go certain places at home I’m sure to run into all the people I want to see, and it feels like there’s more community almost. But on the other hand there are things that I really prefer about New York. There’s a lot more diversity when it comes to people in the music scene up here – it’s not intentional but there are a lot more dudes playing music back home, and I think that’s why I spent a long time thinking that my music wasn’t really good and that people wouldn’t want to hear it. Since I’ve been here, I’ve felt like there’s more music like the stuff I make and it’s made it easier for me to be confident in what I’m making.”
The intersection of romance and nostalgia pops up in little phrases throughout her discography: “kissing circles on my thighs” and “you smell like cigarettes and how chocolate tastes.” They sit somewhere between the bluntness of Liz Phair and the anxiety of Alex G. On “3AM at a Party” she sings wishes at a love interest, punctuating the song with a “you deserve better from someone like me,” and later on the folksy “Switzerland” dreams about running away to the titular country, opening by stating “I don’t think I really know who I am / but I don’t think I really give a damn.” Her past albums teetered like emotions on a precipice of realization, and with For Young Hearts it feels like she has it figured out. “For me it kind of captures the feelings of being on the edge of youth and adulthood,” she says. “When I wrote most of the songs, I was about to go off to college, I was about to break up with my boyfriend at the time, and I was feeling very romantic and nostalgic about life.”
You can count Soccer Mommy among the acts who have utilized platforms like Bandcamp and SoundCloud to leapfrog their way into mid-major indie label success. The type of fledgling artistic entrepreneurism that has led to Frankie Cosmos moving from free weekly Bandcamp demo tapes to higher profile albums on Double Double Whammy and Bayonet. The type of subdued weird that took Katie Dey and Teen Suicide from minor cult notability to sold-out runs of tapes and LPs on Orchid Tapes and Run for Cover. For Young Hearts feels like the first stepping stone on a long path to something even more grand.
Our bedroom isn’t just the place in our home where we sleep, it’s quite literally the room we reserve for deep dreaming, for intimacy and love, and in some cases, for making music. You can hear the ghosts of love and dreams, almost like subtle tape hiss, in the background of Sophie’s songs. For someone in a liminal stage of their life, her lyrics have a stunning clarity about them, like someone looking back on their youth after decades rather than months of reflection. “I think that the experience of moving and starting something new has given me a lot of new things to write about like looking back at youth, getting over certain people, changing as a person.” she says. “I just feel like moving here has helped me to not only decide what I want to do, but to start doing it.”
Listen to Soccer Mommy’s debut album, featuring “Switzerland”, here.