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Soccer Mommy’s “Circle the Drain” Is a Compelling Contradiction

As Soccer Mommy, Sophie Allison makes music that’s keenly attuned to life’s highs and lows, balancing moments of rapture with clear-eyed snapshots of depression and malaise. Her frank songwriting expands and contracts accordingly, oscillating between the declarative and the intimate. Clean, Soccer Mommy’s 2018 debut, leveraged that tension into a series of compact vignettes, channeling raw emotion into knotty stories of frustration, desire, and aspirational love. The music is never only one thing; its changeability, and that seeming clash between emotional registers, is the source of its power.

With “circle the drain,” the latest single from Soccer Mommy’s upcoming album color theory, Allison makes that tension newly expansive, rendering the deep blues of her lyrics with a decidedly warmer sonic palette. Though the song addresses dizzying sadnesses, there’s an unspoken sweetness in its sharp production, and in the buoyant amble of its melodies. “Things feel that low sometimes, even when everything is fine,” she sings, leaning into depression’s fundamental contradiction as she ramps up to the chorus.

There’s a contradiction, too, in the perfectly casual admission of the following line. “Hey I’ve been falling apart these days,” sighs Allison, at once resigned and not. The guitars hold back for a moment, until it all comes spilling out: “Split open, watching my heart go round and around.” In that moment, the sky opens up, and the instrumentation coalesces into a cleansing wave. Allison balances her lyrical remove with a sense of union in the music—things coming together, in spite of it all. It’s that air of mismatch that makes “circle the drain” one of Soccer Mommy’s most compelling songs to date.