Lo-fi indie pop outfit Soccer Mommy released their short debut album For Young Hearts last year, and it was a largely overlooked project that I would have never discovered if it wasn’t for digging deep into the best of 2016 lists at the end of the year. I actually ended up enjoying For Young Hearts quite a bit; I found it charming, cute, and concise but meaningful. There was clearly a path forward for Soccer Mommy and improvements to be made, but lo-fi indie music is generally a forgiving genre. There isn’t really any need to come across as sonically polished, which is often why some of these lo-fi indie bands get a lot of attention with debut albums.
Enter Collection, Soccer Mommy’s second “album” that released last week. I’m using quotations here because I’m not exactly sure that this is a full album. Collection shares two tracks with For Young Hearts, and the album as a whole is only 8 tracks and 29 minutes long. It feels more like Soccer Mommy’s new label Fat Possum wants to get an album out on their label before Soccer Mommy inevitably blows up. Based on these first two albums, they are very close. Both For Young Hearts and Collection have displayed a clear talent for songwriting, melody, and atmosphere – I’m just hoping we get something longer soon.
Collection is again a short and charming album that feels a lot like For Young Hearts with just a big more of polish (probably due to that bigger label). It has a consistent atmosphere, many of the songs are catchy, and the stories of the songs are simple but effective. The quality of the songs themselves is remarkably consistent, but given that we are only really exposed to about half of what would make up a traditional album here, it makes sense that it’s all higher quality. That’s really the only thing holding Collection back. We’ve only really got 6 new songs here (even though “3am at a Party” and “Inside Out” are both great). From both a critical and pure enjoyment standpoint, I have really only been able to dig into Collection at a surface level because of how ephemeral it feels. Soccer Mommy still shows a lot of diversity especially in a genre that often lacks it (lo-fi indie), the songs are catchy, effective, and thematically fitting, but there just isn’t very much music.
It was immediately apparent on my first listen how likable Soccer Mommy comes across and just how catchy these tracks are. Some of my favorites were “Death By Chocolate” with its great vocal track, “3am at a Party”, which hits its mark perfectly, and “Waiting For Cars” which is probably one of the most sophisticated songs on this album from a lyrical standpoint. The other tracks are all great too and Soccer Mommy does cover a lot of musical ground here in a short amount of time. “Try” has a surf-rock or beachy vibe, and I loved the nostalgic, wispy feeling of “Allison”. I could immediately list something I enjoyed about each song on Collection, that’s just how consistent it is. On the other hand, Collection is again missing that extra step to really make it something special. It’s almost grating every time this album ends to imagine how much its missing. There are so many ideas that Soccer Mommy is just barely touching on here that are just begging to be fleshed out more. What would Soccer Mommy sound like in a full-on, surf-rock banger? What about taking a theme from a song like “3am at a Party” all the way into a long, climactic ballad? I know its not ever fair to knock an album for what is missing rather than discussing what is there, but in the case where we are really looking at just 6 new tracks, it feels justifiable.
Frankly, I don’t have a lot else to say about Collection because it just doesn’t give me that much to talk about. This is a bit of an unconventional review for me, but I felt that this week for music was a little barren, and I did want to bring attention to Soccer Mommy. I feel like there is a lot of potential for them to really burst out with a true full-length album soon. Even in a vacuum, Collection is a charming, pleasant, and consistent lo-fi indie record that can really only be faulted for how short it is. Soccer Mommy has shown that they have songwriting, atmosphere, melody, and meaning – I’m just waiting for depth.