“Still Clean” kicks off Soccer Mommy’s official debut with an unsettling narrative: “In the summer, you said you loved me like an animal/ Stayed beside me just enough to keep your belly full/ Then you took me down to the water, got your mouth all clean/ Left me drowning once you picked me out your bloody teeth.” The carnal disposability that Sophie Allison opens with here cuts deep. It demonstrates a lack of agency that hangs over the rest of the album like a curse; it gets at the unforgiving nature of love that seems to be there one day and gone the next. But was it ever really there at all? Or did you just want it to be so badly that you let yourself believe?
The placidity of that shoreline, hazy like a vision, occupies the first half of the song, with glances out a window wondering if they’ll come wandering back. But as the realization of manipulation hits, the song starts to pick itself up. “I guess I’m only what you wanted for a little while,” Allison repeats. It echoes and cracks — the panning in and out from mono to stereo is an especially effective touch — and she sounds defiant and also resolute. What is one supposed to say to that? There’s no response that can justify it, no way to win back what was never really yours. The only thing to do is to keep moving forward.
“‘Still Clean’ discusses the hopelessness of waiting for someone who’s abandoned you,” Allison said in a press release. “It uses this idea of being ‘clean’ to explain the feeling of being stuck waiting for someone, hoping that they haven’t moved on from you. When you are stuck in this place of waiting you kind of put your world — and your memory of them — on pause. But as the song shows, sometimes people keep moving while you’re standing still, and sometimes you’re the only one who’s left clean.”