Opening with a track entitled ‘Where Are We Now’ seems pretty apt considering that this is the first LP American Football has released this century. Though their sophomore offering is still self-titled, the album is very different to the one released 17 years ago.
When American Football came onto the scene in 1999 with their debut release, they joined a handful of emo bands that could boast that they didn’t have a band song.
As time went on, they became known for their abilities to push the boundaries of the emo genre and intertwine it with jangly guitars, more akin to math rock than the traditional emo movement that was pioneered by the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and early Jimmy Eat World.
American Football are still the same band, you’re still the same person and their music will still hit you in the feels like it did the first time you listened to it – regardless of when that time was.
While the debut featured that iconic picture of a house emblazoned on the front, the cover of LP 2 is inside the house. While fans know well of the story outside the house, this album covers the darker, more personal inside. “We’ve been here before,” guitarist and vocalist Mike Kinsella states on opener ‘Where Are We Now’. “We’ll figure it out like that goddamn door/ We just need a skeleton key.”
The album itself is more polished and refined than their debut, with a bigger focus on well-tuned vocals and song structure. Again, it features just nine songs but you won’t even feel them flit away as they engage you in a special kind of aural pleasure.
Tracks were sporadically released over the past few months, with ‘I’ve Been So Lost For So Long’ being a track that is still as stand-out as it was on first listen.
The album explores the theme of midlife and the heartbreak that often comes with it, tearing apart what had been beautiful at the beginning and showing off the faults that lie underneath.
The intertwining melodies of Kinsella and fellow guitarist Steve Holmes are well thought out and still capable of making the hairs stand on the back of your neck, which will serve as schooling to the ‘twinklecore’ revival that has reared its head in recent years.
After a period of absence, bands often come back trying a new genre and strange new sounds in order to burst back onto the scene. It’s refreshing to see American Football have avoided this entirely and just matured.
Maybe, the inside of the house will become just as iconic as the outside.