American Football
American Football (LP3)


3.5
great

Review

by Point1 USER (17 Reviews)
March 14th, 2019 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: American Football once more push the boundaries of the emo genre on their second comeback record, but can't quite shake a few bad habits.

It seems bizarre to be reviewing the third American Football album – or that one exists at all. What started as an emo-dad reunion tour has now resulted in two sequel LPs to the 1999 self-titled jazz-meets-indie-meets-teenage-diary classic. Unlike the 2016 record, however, this new release promises new territory for the band, building upon rather than merely revisiting their past.

American Football LP3 does what its predecessor had little interest in, which is advancing the aesthetic and composition of the band’s sound. Gone are the heat wave late-summer nights, replaced by the frigid ambience of mid-winter. The album is produced in such a way that familiar emo progressions are drained of their warmth, accented by additional instruments like chilly and resonant xylophones. On “Heir Apparent,” sharp reverbed guitars pierce through a locked-in rhythm section ornamented by pianos, sounding more like a jazz-shoegaze combo than a typical emo song. The fact that American Football make a conscious effort to try out different things and still find a way to test the boundaries of the genre is laudable, and makes songs like the opener “Silhouettes” more engaging than anything on LP2. Even when the band aren’t showing off new accoutrements, the instrumental performances shine; the spectacular “Doom in Full Bloom” builds up over the course of almost eight minutes with a gorgeous mixture of guitars and trumpet laid over precise drums. In a sense, it almost seems like this group of technically talented musicians are showing the BandCamp emo kids how it’s really done, and it’s hard to deny how compelling these instrumental parts are.

Unfortunately, the core problem with the record is held over from the last album: Mike Kinsella. While it is of course completely unfair to blame an artist for changing his vocal style over two decades and a prolific solo career – particularly considering that he was so young when LP1 was released – the overwrought and saccharine lilt of Owen vocals is distracting and difficult to ignore. The biggest offender is in the otherwise strong “Uncomfortably Numb,” which starts right off the bat with Kinsella moaning “Sensitivityyyyy” in a way that sounds like a Jarrod Alonge satire of the band. The strength of the melodies varies throughout the record, and a few habits arise again and again. However, these flaws might just be magnified by his over-pronunciation, as the multiple guest performances all sound great and provide a necessary respite. The indulgent vocals are often intensified by the lyrics themselves. For all intents and purposes, Kinsella appears to view American Football as emo in the most extreme sense possible – whereas the original album was endearingly overwrought in a relatable sense, turning the typical indignities of adolescence into tragedies, many of the songs on LP2 dealt with serious topics like suicide in the most jarring way possible, coming across as more dramatic than most LiveJournals. Fortunately, this record has nothing as unintentionally hilarious as "Doctor it hurts/When I exist" on it. In contrast, the themes on LP3 are quite clever – this is dad emo in a literal sense, and Kinsella is concerned with the challenges of fatherhood and moving on from the past. For many listeners, these words may resonate as much as LP1 did when they first heard them, but when delivered through a performance that sounds like an impression of an emotional singer they often sound ridiculous, lamp-shading the melodrama rather than making it believable and compelling.

American Football (LP3) sounds fantastic, with beautiful instrumental performances, some truly exciting compositions, and a moody and frigid atmosphere that disrupts summer’s hegemony on emo rock. The themes of letting go of the past and facing new responsibilities are a natural development from the 1999 classic; unfortunately, vocals that demand attention from their beautiful surroundings hold back what could have been an unexpectedly transcendent record.



Recent reviews by this author
Interpol MarauderDeath Cab for Cutie Thank You For Today
The Weakerthans Left and LeavingThe Dangerous Summer Golden Record
The Dismemberment Plan Uncanney ValleyThe 1975 The 1975
user ratings (168)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Trebor. STAFF (4)
I've never seen so far ahead of me...

Mason Pearmain (5)
Hypnosis in musical form...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Point1
March 14th 2019


425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This thing is gorgeous and I would pay 40 dollars for an instrumental version.



If you can get past the vocals I'm jealous of you and you will absolutely adore this.



Stream is here: https://www.stereogum.com/2035618/stream-american-footballs-new-album/music/album-stream/

ButtBoy
March 14th 2019


2286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"American Football Part III: The Winter of our Discontent" where did this title come from? never heard of it

Relinquished
March 14th 2019


39400 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i've been following Owen for years so yea I'm gonna enjoy the heck out of this

CaliggyJack
March 14th 2019


2781 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How the fuck do you make three legendary albums in succession and not fuck up? Boggles me.

Slex
March 14th 2019


6248 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This doesn't come out for another week, I'd save this in case it gets taken down

Digging: Shin Guard - 2020

Point1
March 14th 2019


425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's streaming right now, I posted the link.



That title was a joke, I'll edit it if it wasn't clear.

ButtBoy
March 14th 2019


2286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review btw. The vocals bug me too, but the song structures here are atypical, like LP1, and provide long instrumental passages without vocals. Which is kinda nice and let's you focus on the good stuff. The ambiance is so good that this will probably settle at a 4 for me

Point1
March 14th 2019


425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If there was a 7.5/10 here that's what I'd have it as.

Slex
March 14th 2019


6248 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Oh oops wasn't aware it was streaming, my apologies!



Good review my dude, tho I respectfully disagree, I think the vocals are considerably better here than they were on the last album

ButtBoy
March 14th 2019


2286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah they are better than last time for sure.

CaliggyJack
March 14th 2019


2781 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm a huge fan of Americ Anfootball!

Iamthe Nightstars
March 14th 2019


2762 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I give them credit for making a few changes with this album to differentiate it from lp2 but the music is more or less the same as that album overall quality wise. When listening to this I can't help but think of how so many other bands that have ripped them off have put out music with more impact than this. Also Lamos seems kind of bored here. The drumming seemed to stand out more on lp2.

AgentDeathbat
March 14th 2019


9596 Comments


Oh it's streaming now? Guess I can put mine out now.

Digging: Attalus - Into the Sea

QuinnObropta
March 15th 2019


129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Way way better than LP2

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 15th 2019


29902 Comments


album's gorgeous

I never liked LP2 and even their debut never blew me away the way it did others

this might be my favorite by the band

Slex
March 15th 2019


6248 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Rightfully so, it's their best

Point1
March 15th 2019


425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm really annoyed this came out as soon as winter ended.

Relinquished
March 15th 2019


39400 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

start making memories with it til next winter then

minty901
March 16th 2019


3685 Comments


i just hate how often he breaks up the vowels in words. It sounds ba-had and he does it so mu-huch, it's one thing I didn't like about the debut.

Point1
March 16th 2019


425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're so right, it drives me nuts. There are tons of weird bad habits on here.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy