Annot(e)tations is a column by Austin Nguyen that shines a light on the hidden gems of recently released albums or singles that may have flown under your radar. This week, he discusses Soccer Mommy’s “Yellow Is the Color of Her Eyes.”
Whether you’re streaming Ariana Grande, ZAYN, or any artist in between, music has a tendency to immortalize a feeling or a moment in singularity.
For “thank u, next,” Grande flaunted the self-sufficiency any heartbroken person needs post-breakup in hair flips and camera-directed kisses, and for “PILLOWTALK,” ZAYN turned the lights down low and turned one of love’s most intimate rituals into a belt-filled spectacle of sensuality.
But the songs that are truly indelible, that feel all-encompassing, are the ones that collage the world together into a 3D motion picture instead of just a 2D still removed from aspic, and in “Yellow Is the Color of Her Eyes,” Sophie Allison (stage name Soccer Mommy) carves that world from wood, imperfect with its ruts and splinters, over the span of seven minutes, making the track her longest to date.
Rays of sunlight seem to bleed through the bedroom curtains when crescendoing organ chords set the stage for “Yellow Is…,” an eyes-closed inhale and sigh of relief. That is, until the day kicks in with the guitar pattern, blurred by reverb haze as if were just the symptoms of morning grogginess.
Allison’s vision has never seemed clearer though as she basks in the universe’s gifts, in both its broad strokes (“The bright / August sun / feels like yellow”) and small beauties (“And the white / Of her eyes / Is so yellow”), before turning the lens inward and magnifying the struggles beneath the surface: “The tiny lie / I told to myself / Is making me hollow / I’ve been choking up truths / That I couldn’t swallow.”
What makes “Yellow Is…” cinematic though, near-magical, is its guitar refrain. The descending melody feels like the perfect soundtrack for the falling shimmers of autumn gold you see, each chord suspension trapping sunlight between its notes and between the trees that border suburban neighborhoods with familiarity coloring it all — as if you’ve walked down this path your entire life, knowing each spot where the leaves let the sunlight through, the komorebi of this exact sidewalk.
This is the world in motion, not frozen in time, and each line feels just as alive; blood rushes to the singer’s cheeks while she elides her words in the second verse, half-mumbling in embarrassment (“I’m falling apart / Over a mem’ry of you”), and you can almost see the wistful smile starting to form in Allison’s face, a bittersweet reluctance trapped in her eyes when the singer and her lover part ways (“I’m thinkin’ of her / From over the ocean / See her face / In the waves / Her body is / Floating”).
The guitar and synth become isolated to start the outro, the last few wings of light stretched across a lilac sky while the sun sets and love says its farewell: “Loving you isn’t enough… / I’ll feel the cold as they put out my sun.”
Endings, however, are seldom clean. Feelings linger, these visions from the past meshing with the feature, and for Allison, the yearning feels piercing, disorienting, as an electric guitar shreds through the placid scenery, the movie screen seeming to perforate and melt before your very eyes, but that’s just love.
It might be blind, might be a war, but for Soccer Mommy, love is the irrepressible way we see the world, creating beauty and pain, peace and chaos from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep.