A few months ago, Sophie Allison tweeted that her “All Too Well” would be on the next Soccer Mommy album. “All Too Well” is, indisputably, the best Taylor Swift song so, of course, that comparison got me very excited. The song in question on Clean is “Scorpio Rising,” and it more than lives up to that lofty expectation.
“Scorpio Rising” is structured much like “All Too Well” is, a series of increasingly revelatory snapshots taken over the course of an entire relationship. Starting in an insular bubble of romance, those walls gradually begin the break down. See, there’s another girl, some theoretical anybody, who’s “bubbly and sweet like Coca-Cola,” not messy and complicated. “You want warmth and I’m something colder/ I’m putting your hands to her heart,” Allison sings, pushing them away until they’re gone for good. And all of a sudden, she’s back where she started, alone. The song builds and crescendos brilliantly from there, a carousel of repeating phrases and imagery. The kicker will stick in your teeth for days: “I’m just a victim of changing planets/ My scorpio rising and my parents.”
What makes “Scorpio Rising” such a fantastic song is what makes most Soccer Mommy songs so great. Allison has a style of writing that draws you in close, intimate but also omnipotent: lovesick and obsessive while also side-eying those very emotions, commenting on their basis in reality (or lack thereof) while also confirming their validity. “Wasting all my time, wondering if you really loved me,” Allison sings on the album’s centerpiece. “I was wasting all my time/ Thinking about the way you really treat me.” Those relationship ruminations hardly seem like a waste, though, when they result in songs like this.
And Clean goes beyond Allison’s impressive narrative abilities and expands her sonic vocabulary as well. A lot of her earlier work was affecting, but also a little muddy and similar, the result of her limited recording means and a desire to do everything herself. With a full band behind her now, Clean is more varied and immersive. Whether she’s reveling in Avril Lavigne-esque acoustic hookwork on “Your Dog,” creating lush insular worlds on opening stunner “Still Clean,” or maintaining prickly, queasy melodies on “Skin,” Clean demonstrates Allison’s skill as a composer of indefatigable rock songs.