Review: Soccer Mom - "You Are Not Going To Heaven"

Soccer Mom - You Are Not Going to Heaven
(Sweaters & Pearls/100mm Records 2011)
"Some of the most polished-sounding college rock this side of the 80's."

Before writing a review of an album, I try to familiarize myself with the artists behind it. Usually, this involves visiting the band's website, listening to their previous output and maybe even asking them a question or two. After listening to You Are Not Going to Heaven, the 2011 debut album by Boston quartet Soccer Mom, I was itching to hear more, yet found no trace of the band online. It's quite a shame that they've already been lost to history, as Not Going to Heaven serves up some of the most polished-sounding college rock this side of the 80's. Though most of the discography on the Sweaters & Pearls has a warbly, lo-fi charm, this LP stands out as an extremely well produced effort, worthy of its elaborate packaging. The white 10" record is encased in a crisp white marble jacket, covered by a small sleeve. Musically and visually, this slab of wax is appealing in nearly every way.

"A Natural History", the first track on You Are Not Going to Heaven opens in a burst of groaning distortion that's quickly tamed by a lead guitar and tight rhythm section. Thurston Moore-esque vocals slink into the mix, evoking Sonic Youth's sludgy twang. "Salty Vibe" is the highlight of the A-side, in which Soccer Mom channel REM's jangly post-punk vibe, sprinkling in some wobbly keyboard and early 00's indie rock influences. The song concludes with a killer minute-long, mind numbing krautrock outro. The band didn't shy away from imitating the greats on this album, and mixing and matching influences seemed to work for them. The B-Side of this record is the more aggressive, shoegazier half of the album, commencing in a barrage of guitars that seem to have been plucked straight from My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything. "Southern Bells" is the track I replay the most on this side, a mostly instrumental tune with twisted leads evocative of those feature in Slint's Spiderland and keyboards that are vaguely reminiscent of the Twin Peaks theme song. I try to make it through life headbanging as little as possible, but I find my cranium nodding up and down a bit during the song's breakdowns. 80's college rock fans, this album is made for you.