A smattering of twinkling guitar teardrops and that overwrought Kinsella coo... American Football are surely back. Long after worrying he'd accidentally made the emo revival happen, our fearless leader steps back in, releasing the third record the band have titled American Football in their career. Tough one, this. Just as beautiful as ever, the music sounds emotive and mathy, feeling but showy, and of course, the lyrics are teenage as hell. "Doctor: it hurts when I exist". Same.
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Ah so it all fits into place. Owls, Capn Jazz, Very Secretary. I see.
American Football were possibly the most distinctive and revered group that centered around Mike Kinsella and pals and having had their debut also self titled album re-issued last year they toured the world and elsewhere in front of weeping formerly emo middle agers.
Nice story but can they make another record that will soundtrack the issues surrounding babysitting duties as well as the first one soundtracked lonely teen bedrooms? Well yeah I guess. They’ve used the same title, the same house for the sleeve and the same intertwining math guitars so everything is in place for Kinsella to emote whatever it is approaching-middle aged guys worry about.
It’s a shame Robin isn’t here to tell you about how sad this record is. I’ve got the lyric sheet in front of me but can’t quite get on with Kinsella’s too-Hootie voice. This straight ahead lyricism is sometimes that I often found hard to fathom about these groups. It’s kind of like when American pro golfer Justin Leonard gets sensitive. Sometimes it grates as on ‘Home is Where the Haunt Is’ - I’m sure there’s a smudge of auto tune on these vocals, they are just too smooth. However the music ‘neath is just lovely. Reminds me of being haunted by autumn colours on trips to the USA in the early 2000s. These guitars jangle in that simple Red House Painters way, one in each ear, bass down the centre, drums flickering away. This all comes together perfectly on ‘Born To Lose’ which has the simplest of gorgeous riffs with just subtle changes in texture. The sense of a stiller and less dynamic Death Cab For Cutie springs to mind throughout with the simple four piece guitar explorations that hint at the weirder stuff but stay on the safe side.
American Football then are like those formerly slightly crazy kids who got good jobs and settled in suburbia. They are still into cool music and are pleasant to hang out with but as you leave and shut the screen door you think that maybe next time they invite you for dinner you’ll be busy elsewhere.
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