While Soccer Mommy’s fan base remains intimate enough that listeners are generally supportive and adoring, “none of them really know you,” Allison said. “A lot of them don’t understand anything you’re going through.”
The work is supposed to help with that, and “Color Theory,” out Feb. 28, while blisteringly personal, is also an offering of connection. Meticulously conceived as a three-movement cycle divided by mood and theme, each represented by a color — blue for sadness, depression and heartbreak; yellow for paranoia and illness, mental and physical; and gray for death — the album can be piercing in both its plain-spoken specificity and also in its wide-lens view of personal trauma and suffering.
“It’s a halfhearted calm — the way I’ve felt since I was 13,” Allison sings on “Bloodstream,” the crushing opening track, “’cause I may not feel it now, covered up the wounds with my long sleeves/but I know it’s waiting there swimming through my bloodstream/and it’s gonna come for me.”
The self-proclaimed “princess of screwing up,” Allison could only laugh when confronted with the heaviness of her new songs, which camouflage their bleak illustrations of physical and mental decay in lush, even peppy ’90s-alternative musical packaging. (“Color Theory” was engineered and produced by Gabe Wax, known for his work with Big Thief, the War on Drugs and Frankie Cosmos.)
“I feel like it really bangs,” Allison said with a shrug of the finished music.
Though “Color Theory” veers from the spiky irreverence of previous Soccer Mommy songs like “Your Dog” or “Cool,” Allison tells a trickier story, nimbly linking her own lows to those of her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer when Allison was a teenager. On the seven-plus-minute centerpiece, “Yellow Is the Color of Her Eyes,” and the closing song “Gray Light,” she does not shy from the cold indifference of mortality (“loving you isn’t enough/you’ll still be deep in the ground when it’s done”) and she ends the album with a line no more hopeful than where she began: “I’m watching my mother drown.”