To call Illinois emo outfit American Football influential would be a gross understatement. Twenty years ago, the band dropped their self-titled debut, which blended the styles of emo, indie and math rock with such effortless perfection that they completely altered the evolution of all three of those genres. And then, just as quickly as they appeared, they dropped off the face of the earth, shrouding the band and their only full-length record in a cultish mythos.
So, when the band announced their reunion and a follow-up record 17 years later, it’s easy to understand the excitement and expectations that surrounded the comeback. Their also self-titled second LP was released to mixed reviews in 2016, leaving some fans disappointed by the album’s lack of creative differentiation.
Luckily for everyone, American Football didn’t take another 17 years to release a third album. Even better, their third self-titled record, known colloquially as ‘LP3’, demonstrates that the legendary band has room to grow and so much left to give.
While clean, gorgeous guitar riffs continue to be methodically tapped in odd-metered compositions over Mike Kinsella’s soft-spoken, haunting vocal melodies, ‘LP3’ showcases the exponential growth in American Football’s collective songwriting. Every individual song is infinitely more dynamic than any previous song, and the band’s execution of ideas has never been so concise. With tracks such as “Silhouettes” and “Doom in Full Bloom,” the group pulls their sound in a more post-rock direction, with dips and crescendos slowly building both songs into grand emotional odysseys. Meanwhile, tracks like “Uncomfortably Numb” and “Heir Apparent” are the catchiest songs the band has ever released.
If their second record was simply an effort in shaking off the rust, ‘LP3’ is certainly a record worthy of succeeding their first. Two decades later, American Football has finally been able to step out of the shadow of their mythical debut. ‘LP3’ is not only their best record to date. It’s also a promising look into the band’s future.
When Tyler isn’t busy nerding out about new music, video games, beer or some random new coding project he picked up, he can be found writing for, performing with or shamelessly plugging his mathy indie rock band, Becoming A Ghost.