20 years ago American Football, formed by Mike Kinsella of Cap’n Jazz, made their eponymously titled post rock-meets-emo debut and split up. The album is highly regarded in many quarters, including here at Norman Records. A follow-up surprised us in 2016, with Mike’s brother Nate expanding the line-up, and now we have the third installment. Features guest performances from Hayley Williams of Paramore and Elizabeth Powell of Land Of Talk.
Everyone buying this is entered into our American Football vinyl competition »
Limited Exclusive Vinyl LP £15.99 BSM248V3NRX
Exclusive clear with blue splatter vinyl LP on Big Scary Monsters. Limited edition of 300 copies.
- Shipping cost: £3.35 ?
- NORMAN RECORDS EXCLUSIVE
- Coloured vinyl
- Limited edition
- Includes download code
Vinyl LP £15.39 BSM248V
Black vinyl LP on Big Scary Monsters.
- Shipping cost: £3.35 ?
- Includes download code
CD £11.49 BSM248CD
CD on Big Scary Monsters.
- Shipping cost: £1.05 ?
Limited Vinyl LP £16.99 BSM248V2
Limited edition, indies only blue marble vinyl LP on Big Scary Monsters.
Now this record is probably my biggest surprise favourite of the year! Having booked tickets to see these much-loved cult indie favourites at the Brudenell based on my adoration for their debut, I was a bit reluctant to check this album out. The response to their comeback album three years earlier was underwhelming to say the least, and finding out they were making a third so soon made me sigh with worry. But on hitting play after I bagged myself a couple of tickets in the daze of an awful hangover, my presumptions soon vanished. I was greeted with some of the warmest guitar music I’d heard in an age, and became cloaked in a comfortable glow of cozy melancholy courtesy of Mike Kinsella and company.
‘LP3’ has since become my go-to hangover record along with Elliott Smith’s ‘Either/Or’ and the Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Darklands’. These records share similar musical traits which are perfect to sip a Bloody Mary to; mid-paced tempos, plaintive rainy-day instrumentals, inviting production, forlorn vocals, and lyrics concerning doom and gloom without getting into the overtly morbid shades of say, ‘On The Beach’ or ‘Songs of Love & Hate’.
The sound on show here is a fairer shade of emo than witnessed on ‘LP1’, complete with indie pop melodicism, dream pop’s ethereal charm and the anything goes structures of post-rock. Their status as math rock ‘twinkle daddies’ remains, though there’s even some apparent influence from both Steve Reich (those glockenspiels!) and Slowdive (those guitars!) here. ‘I Can’t Feel You’ even features an appearance from Rachel Goswell! This and the other tracks with guest spots are the highlights of the album, with Kinsella trading verses with Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell and Paramore’s Hayley Williams, almost as if there was some sort of indie Simple Minds thing going on with the male-to-female vocal switch-ups.
Emo has always had a feel of youthful nostalgia to it, but ‘LP3’ keeps the lyrical traits of longing and melancholy and turns its focus to themes of adulthood. These aren’t the scrappy kids of Cap'n Jazz making messy and juvenile music anymore, they couldn't kid anyone that they are. They’ve grown up, bought a house and had kids, and just happened to reform the beloved project 17 years later and made some cracking music reflective of their maturation. It seemed when American Football released ‘LP2’ that the countless young bands influenced by them had overtaken them. Their third album proved those nippers still have a thing or three to learn.
It took American Football seventeen years to follow up their much loved debut album and now it seems we can't get rid of them as three years later we get another instalment. Although someone needs to teach them the art of album titling, there is something rather fitting about their reluctance to distinguish one album from another. As if each is a continuation of the same piece.
This third album continues their habit of tangling guitars together favourably but supersizes it. Opener Silhouettes though opening with a glockenspiel (that most dastardly of instrument) soon bursts into the type of proggy big rock they excel at with the murmured vocals worryingly autotuned but sat enough beneath the shards of intricate guitars as to not cause offence.
So it's into this setting steps Paramore's Hayley Williams as guest vocalist. Initially it would seem barely believable that she'd be involved but American Football's baby steps into stadium territory allow them to become quite comfortable bedfellows. The result is a shimmering shard of ear friendly rock with duel vocals that becomes the clearest thing American Football have ever recorded but stops short of making the sort of sheeny racket her parent band do. American Football's background in Excellent Post Rock can still be heard in the lovely guitars of Heir Apparent but the vocals are allowing too much of normality to creep into what should be a distinct and unique sound.
Another guest is Slowdive's Rachel Goswell who cooes all over I Can't Feel You to good effect and the track sums up this album in that the musicianship is excellent, it's hard to not admire a band that can make such a lovely chiming sound out of their instruments, but its Death Can For Cutie ish emo grown old with 2 kids and a nice house in the suburbs is just a little too normalized for my ears.
YOUR RECENTLY VIEWED ITEMS
- American Football (LP3) by American Football
What the artist or label has to say for themselves. Read more.