Review Summary: I've never seen so far ahead of me
American Football changed the face of emo. A legion of angsty 20-somethings armed with guitars in open tunings and barred with capos dominate the scene still to this day and the weight of Kinsella’s guitar wizardry is even felt in the broader world of math-rock. American Football’s only record before dissolving and eventually reuniting is the strange record that resonates more today than it did in ‘99. With its cold and technical instrumentation and stripped-bare-sad lyrics, it perfectly captured the essence of the isolating midwest. Ten plus years after playing to a dozen people in legion halls, American Football exploded in popularity on the internet in the late 2000s. This eventually promoted Kinsella to take a break from his highly prolific solo project Owen and get back in the saddle with an American Football reunion tour. Following the tour, the band released a comeback record also titled American Football (LP2).
While the new music was appreciated, LP2
was, on the whole, a disappointment - trying to hit the same notes as LP1,
but missing the mark. American Football (LP3)
offers something wholeheartedly different, a new take on a familiar sound. It’s its own beast - moody, atmospheric, more about the burden of adulthood than lamenting of melancholic youth.
is a house built brick by brick with patient songwriting - lush arrangements that blossom over a lengthy period of time, cultivating in fully fleshed out songs. Where’s LP1’s
charm largely came from its high energy and juvenile tone, LP3
is the labor of seasoned musicians. Most tracks are over five minutes, each running through a gambit of emotions, crescendos that are fitting ends to moody buildups. The production is stellar, offering up crisp guitar tones, beefy and perfectly mixed drums, an overall clarity of sound that would be a detriment if the musicianship wasn’t so tight. The sprawling "Doom in Full Bloom" anchors the album, featuring the haunting, yet soothing arpeggios American Football is famous for. Throughout the eight tracks found on this album there is consistent and restrained songwriting and a languid pace that feels more like the beginning of summer than the end. Although strong overall, there’s nothing here that quite transcends the way "Never Meant," or "The Summer Ends," or the "One With The Wurlitzer"did. As there’s nothing lacking per se, it’s perhaps unfair to compare LP3
to the lightning in a bottle that was LP1. So comparisons aside, LP3
is the perfect record American Football could have released 20 years into their career.