This week, American Football will release the follow up to their long-awaited sophomore album with LP3.
Emerging from a series of emo bands based out of Illinois, American Football burst on to the scene with their now critically acclaimed LP1, an album full of swirling guitar riffs and melancholy lyrics. That was in 1999, when frontman Mike Kinsella was only 22, and while American Football has never lost their easily recognizable sound, LP3 shows that Kinsella and co. are older, wiser and more in tune with the sound they want to have.
The albums opener “Silhouettes,” is a sprawling emo epic that sets the tone for the rest of the record. The glittering guitars and placid laid against lyrics depicting a couple struggling with issues of adultery creates a stark contrast that leaves a lasting impression. Kinsella croons, “I’m a cloud when you come to me / Tell me again / What’s the allure of inconsequential love?”
Following “Silhouettes,” “Every Wave To Ever Rise” reflects the same theme of a beautiful yet terrible disaster. The show-stealing vocals from Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell transport this good break-up song to a incredible showcase of American Football’s ability to create the most haunting of tracks. “Truth or dare / Love is the cross you bear / J’ai mal au cœur, c’est la faute de l’amour,” Powell whispers in French as she laments the loss of a lover.
“Uncomfortably Numb,” one of the three singles released prior to the full album, is the most ‘hit-worthy’ of the tracklist. The metronomic beat lays the groundwork for a sentimental track about the struggles of growing up as Kinsella and Paramore’s Haley Williams deliver a call-and-response – “The lessons / Are so much / Less obvious / The further you get from home / The further I get from home / How will you exist / How will I exist / Without consequence? / I’ll let you know.”
The track speaks further toward the growing theme at this point in the album, there is this expectancy that when we grow old, everything becomes easier, financially, emotionally, psychologically we become more sound. However, Kinsella would seem to argue the opposite. That the struggles are still there, but we just learn to hide them better because of this societal expectancy that we should have everything figured out by now.
With an instrumental intro reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, “I Can’t Feel You” is a desperate cry for help towards a distant significant other. Featuring the voice and guitar of shoegaze hero Rachel Goswell, the track finds Kinsella pleading with a significant other for a connection that seems to have been lost for some time now, “The whispers unfold (I can’t hear you) / Antagonist unknown (I can’t read you) / If every quarrel’s braced alone (I don’t believe you) / Is this communication?”
With a fluctuating bassline and the signature American Football guitar work, “Mine To Miss” is maybe the most instrumentally satisfying of the tracks that make up LP3. Where the song possibly lacks in lyrical quality, using somewhat cliché lines like “My head is an unmade bed” and “I’ll miss you in the next life,” Kinsella makes up for in the incredible arrangement of the song as a whole. Again incorporating the eerie bells heard earlier in “Silhouettes” and a chorus that will make your heart ache, American Football still delivers the goods despite an eye roll or two from the lyrics.
LP3 finds American Football at the most mature stage of the band’s career. With most of the band members now serving roles as fathers, husbands, aged professionals, the songwriting of American Football follows suit. Finding inspiration from the perils of adult life, Kinsella presents a letter overflowing with lamentation, truthfulness, and reconciliation.