Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Being a music fan can be a difficult journey, especially when you have a special emotional attachment to a certain band. Fans can be prone to having extremely high expectations when their favorite band is releasing a new album. What if they aren’t as good anymore?
That feeling is certainly elicited when one discusses how American Football, the emo/indie rock group that began playing together in college, released a self-titled LP but then broke up, to the dismay of many fans. A few years ago, they got back together and released another self-titled LP which planted seeds of hope for the band’s future in their audience.
This year they released “LP 3.” While one could worry that they have become old musicians who have possibly lost their talent for songwriting, you would be sorely mistaken to think that of American Football. On their third release, they continue to create meaningful music. They are still personal, and haven’t lost the ability to discuss inner emotions in a way that connects with the listeners that fell in love with them in the first place.
American Football has a charming story. After their first release and break up, they didn’t see themselves getting back together until a large number of people began stumbling upon their album and suddenly there was a large community that was really interested in the group. Eventually, in 2014, they started playing together again and released “LP 2” in 2016 which was, unfortunately, a little underwhelming and was met with a lukewarm response.
“LP 3” set things right again. This record is a wonderful combination of their talent for melancholy songs with odd time signatures and their access to a wider range of studio equipment and personnel. Essentially “LP 3” is like their first album but slightly more mature and the soundscape is much larger. They are not just a guitar band anymore, they’ve included plenty of synths and an unusually large amount of xylophone.
One of the highlights of the album is the number of vocal features from artists like Hayley Williams from Paramore or Rachel Goswell from Slowdive, as well as Elizabeth Powell from Land of Talk. Often these female vocalists give lead singer and guitarist Mike Kinsella an interlocutor with whom to discuss the introspective themes. It is quite an interesting evolution from the band’s previous method of tackling those personal meditations on one’s past and growing up. Now there is more of a conversation, as if one voice is able to offer validation to another.
Overall I would say this album is a pleasant return to form and is a different kind of success for the group. The band is entering new stages in their lives, facing things like careers and having families. For track recommendations, I would say check out the tracks with features like “Uncomfortably Numb” with Hayley Williams, as well as the lead single “Silhouettes” that highlights the bands individual talent, while the songs “Heir Apparent” and “Mine to Miss” exhibit hints of their past sound in wonderful new ways.