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American Football (LP2)


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Performer Notes
  • Since American Football broke up soon after the release of their self-titled 1999 album, it felt like their one and only release was some kind of magical occurrence that existed at the point where math rock, post-rock, emo, and confessional singer/songwriter all coincided. In the years since, other bands came close to reaching the tender soft-focus heights that the band reached, but nobody ever managed to find the same blend of innocent technical proficiency and openhearted melodic grace that's both compelling and peaceful at its core. Even the projects headed up later by the band's own Mike Kinsella weren't able to fully recapture that elusive feeling. In 2014, the members of American Football reunited to play a series of shows around the world to all the people who had been touched so deeply by their album originally and over the many years since its release. It went so well that the band (the original trio of Mike Kinsella, Steve Holmes, and Steve Lamos plus Mike's brother Nate on bass) decided to return to the studio and make an album, which they again titled American Football. The first questions that come to mind before even spinning the record are something like: Have the years changed the band much? Did they embrace electronics or go acoustic or buy a bunch of fuzz pedals? The answers come during the first notes of the opening song, "Where Are We Now?" The band sounds pretty much like it did in the late '90s. The same crystalline guitar tones, the same interlocking arpeggios, the same kind of shifting time signatures, and the same plaintive vocals are all in place and continue throughout the entire album. It may be a little richer-sounding, less sparse and awkward at times, but mostly it feels like stepping into an audio time machine. The biggest difference is in the lyrics. Since the guys in the band have aged, started families, and experienced victories and losses over time, the album has a wisdom and weariness that the 1999 album couldn't have had. It's an inevitable tradeoff -- innocence for experience -- but the band doesn't wallow in it. There's a matter-of-factness about the new lyrical subject matter that is entirely fitting with the slightly more sophisticated, warmer, and more autumnal sound. Some might miss the more abstract appeal of the original AF album, but the way the band updates and slightly expands that approach makes this new album a resounding success that works on the sonic level, and maybe more importantly, a deep emotional level. ~ Tim Sendra
Professional Reviews
Paste (magazine) - "[The band] hasn't lost its touch for rolling out the sort of quivering, purposely mismatched orchestrations its members have toyed with in associated projects....Like it did in 1999, American Football proves its ability to stand out in a sea of contemporaries and imitators, post-aughts emo revival or no."

Pitchfork (Website) - "LP2 stresses proficiency and immediacy....The production is bracingly bright and crisp compared to the overcast AMERICAN FOOTBALL, hitting like the first true fall chill after a muggy Indian summer."

Clash (magazine) - "[T]here's a wry feeling of introspection peppered through both the music and lyrics."
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