American Football makes a comeback with third LP

Joel Thompson

Classic Midwestern emo band American Football continues its genre-defining legacy with their third LP titled “American Football,” or LP3. 

It has been 20 years since the release of their first LP, and three years since their second LP, both of which were titled “American Football.” LP1 was one of the most influential albums for the emo and math-rock for the early 2000’s era bands, as well as current day emo bands.

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Often the main emotion associated with the American Football’s first LP is nostalgia, as it is a cult classic amongst the emo scene and the only album the band released for 17 years. Their last LP was criticized due to lack of innovation to their original style, a rehash of their first LP.

While LP3 does share many of its themes and stylistic choices with the first album, it makes quite a few leaps with the complexity of its composition as well as a feeling of maturity not found in the previous two records.

The complexity of certain parts can be too much to appreciate everything that’s happening in a song.

The lyrical content reflects this new maturity, and never really touches cliche emo tropes. The songs display struggles with fatherhood, infidelity, enjoyment of life and an older take on the common theme in emo music of “feeling nothing.”

American Football’s style is a symphony made up of their influences. Their sound evokes elements of emo, math rock, post-rock, punk and jazz. Most of the band’s songs are longer than average, and LP3 is no exception. All but two songs pass the five-minute mark. This longer song length lets the band have more freedom to offer tracks that build and progress more than most. 

Even with the extended length of the songs, the album leaves more to be desired. Most of the songs have at least one section that drags on too long or isn’t especially impressive; luckily it is never too long before something new comes.  

With LP3, American Football includes a few new additions to their classic lineup, featuring a set of bells, a vibraphone and multiple sections of choir vocals. The production of the record reflects an appreciation for the shoegaze and dream pop. This taste of the genres adds to the atmospheric nature of the band’s style.

At times throughout the album, the instrumentals become monotonous and repetitive. Some sections become crowded, and the more subtle musical elements can become overshadowed. The complexity of certain parts can be too much to appreciate everything that’s happening in a song.

For the first time in their discography, American Football features guest singers on their tracks. These guest singers are all strong points among the album. The guests include Elizabeth Powell of Slowdive, Haley Williams of Paramore and Rachel Goswell from Land of Talk. The female vocals from the guests contrast nicely with lead singer Mike Kinsella’s vocals and often reflects the duality of themes presented in the songs.

Despite all their changes and experimentation, LP3 shares most of its genetic makeup with LP1, and it feels like their last two albums were an attempt at updating the sound of it. Often when a band makes similar sounding albums, it is with little or no distinction. While American Football may have stumbled with LP2, LP3 seems to be a new take on their original framework.

Overall the album felt like one cohesive piece instead of nine individual songs. There isn’t a track that stands out as terrible in comparison to the album,  as all the songs seem to have the same issue of consistency, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t good songs. The only song I would say is the worst would be “Doom In Full Bloom,” which seems to be the song that passes by without adding anything to the album. The standout tracks are those with the guest vocalists “Every Wave To Ever Rise,” “Uncomfortably Numb,” “I Can’t Feel You,” “Silhouettes” and “Heir Apparent.” 

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American Football’s third LP is fresh and new, but at the same time, it keeps the charm of their first album. With nothing too disappointing besides a few sections where it’s hard to keep interest in the songs, LP3 from American Football is an 8/10. 

Score: 8/10

Joel Thompson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @probably_joel.