In another world, Soccer Mommy would’ve played just days ago to a packed crowd at Emo’s for her May 5 Austin show. Now, she’s reimagining what her visit to Austin might’ve looked like with a new music video for “crawling in my skin” — all in retro 8-bit style, of course.
The video features the pixelated avatars of Soccer Mommy and her band performing on Congress Avenue Bridge. In quintessential Austin style, swirls of bats swoop around the band and flutter into a golden sky while a crowd bobs along to the music. The city skyline appears in vibrant yellow and blue tones that evoke the album art and themes of color theory, Soccer Mommy’s recent sophomore album.
Soccer Mommy is the project of Nashville singer-songwriter Sophie Allison, whose confessional indie rock is at times lyrically reminiscent of ’90s-era Liz Phair and Fiona Apple. Released this February, color theory expands on the pop sensibilities of its predecessor, 2018’s Clean, while still maintaining Soccer Mommy’s guitar-driven sound. The record sees Allison turn inward as she examines her mental health, and bright power chords disguise the harsh emotional truths at the album’s core. On “crawling in my skin,” she details her experiences with sleep paralysis and anxiety, singing “Sedate me all the time / Don’t leave me with my mind.” The track’s catchy hook dilutes the underlying desperate melancholy of the lyrics.
Soccer Mommy was slated for a North American tour this spring in support of color theory that — needless to say — has been postponed. But she’s since found other ways to stay connected with her fans. She does frequent, personable livestreamed sets where she answers fan questions between songs, like who’s her favorite “Buffy” character. (She’s between Spike, Faith and Tara.) Allison brings her own distinct style to her virtual endeavors — take for instance her “Stardew Valley” livestreams where she walked viewers through a session of the farm-themed roleplaying game. An ill-fated “Club Penguin Rewritten” concert initially crashed the online gaming platform’s servers out of sheer popularity, but the second attempt proved successful with Allison appearing onstage as a pigtailed, guitar-wielding cartoon penguin while songs from color theory played.
So, it’s only fitting that the video game trend continues with a music video tour that features Austin and four other cities from the postponed tour getting the 8-bit treatment. On her decision to place Allison and co. atop Congress Avenue Bridge for the Austin video, director Bella Clark said, “I know Austin’s Bat Bridge is kind of touristy, but it’s also for some reason something everyone I know from Austin has brought up at least once.”
As for Allison, she’s been spending her time at home much like the rest of us.
“Quarantine for me has basically consisted of playing video games on my Game Boy, watching “Firefly” and “Buffy” and writing and recording demos. I’ve gotten to do a lot of cooking with my roommates, which is fun,” she said. “I’m missing tour but decided to try and focus on writing and relaxing while I can’t be on the road.” – Sophie Allison
While Soccer Mommy’s spring tour would’ve kicked off right after a SXSW appearance and wrapped up with an Austin show in the final days of its run, the “crawling in my skin” video brings things full circle. The video’s old-school charm may point to the ’90s, but its real nostalgia comes from its representation of a more recent time period — one of live music playing in the Austin night air, bats and all.
— Annie Lyons, KUTX