NPR Songs We Love: Soccer Mommy ‘Your Dog’
By Mike Katzif
In the visceral music video for “Your Dog,” the first single from Soccer Mommy’s forthcoming album Clean, we find Sophie Allison glassy-eyed and numb in the moments after a violent outburst. Directed by Weird Life, the film functions as a bleakly humorous horror flick illustrating the sudden, heartbreaking ending of a relationship which had long since soured. And in its bloody aftermath, we catch glimpses of the conflicting emotions that wash over her as she clumsily tries to get rid of her ex’s body — from deadened disconnection to joyful freedom to a fleeting tinge of regret. The video’s imagery is playfully odd and unsettling at times, but it illuminates and mirrors the themes at play in “Your Dog.”
In many Soccer Mommy songs, Allison sings with a captivating sense of yearning as she ruminates on the wounded ache of love, the uncertainty of youth and restless wanderlust. “Your Dog” channels those insecurities into strength: “I don’t want to be your f****** dog that you drag around,” Allison forcefully opens, unfurling pent-up grievances about feeling mistreated, underestimated and held back as the obedient companion in a relationship. “‘Cause I don’t wanna be your baby girl that you show off to the world … I’m not a prop for you to use when you’re lonely or confused / I want a love a love that lets me breathe / I’ve been choking on your leash,” she sings amid fuzzy chords and shimmering guitar melodies.
The Nashville-based Allison says she considers Clean less as a follow-up to 2017’s Collection, which re-recorded songs from EPs released on Bandcamp, and more as her true first album. Soccer Mommy’s spare intimacy remains, yet a song like “Your Dog” is loud and energized. It’s enlivened by producer Gabe Wax, whose studio allowed Allison a broader instrumental palette, from the propulsive bass and drums to the glittery synths and atmospherics. With dreamy breakdowns building to a distorted peak, the song carries an edge equal to the weight of Allison’s words.
“The song comes from a feeling of being paralyzed in a relationship to the point where you feel like you are a pawn in someone else’s world,” Allison writes in a press release. “The song and the video are meant to show someone breaking away and taking action, but at the same time, it’s only a quick burst of motivation. It’s a moment of strength amidst a long period of weakness.”
While the blunt personal details and black comedy deployed in the video presents “Your Dog” as a post-breakup kiss-off, it’s impossible to not also consider this an anthem suited for these times. It’s a song reclaiming agency and identity taken by another other person’s condescension, control and abuse. And as she makes this empowering demand for respect, Sophie Allison firmly establishes herself as a vital musical voice we’ll be turning to in the years to come.
Clean comes out March 2 on Fat Possum.