In mid-2015, I had the opportunity to see American Football. American Football are a band that existed in the late 1990s, releasing a self-titled EP and LP and then unfortunately called it a day in the year 2000. I had always wished I had been able to see them play live, but understood, like many other seminal bands of their time, like Karate and Slint, I was only a teenager at the time, living in Australia, and therefore it was simply an impossible feat to have the opportunity to enjoy bands like American Football outside of their recordings. In 2014, American Football suddenly appeared online, with a website and Facebook page. As soon as I had discovered this, I followed the Facebook page, and actively watched the reformation of this seminal band. I watched with great eagerness as they announced and performed shows around the US. I started hoping that they might come to Australia, but was doubtful. When the band announced they were heading to Australia, I pounced on tickets and counted down the days to see them play at the Hi Fi Bar in Melbourne. The show was magical, and definitely a show that I will remember for the rest of my life. The band released a sophomore self-titled album a few months ago, which I acquired on vinyl the day it was available from my local retailer.
The long awaited LP opens with ‘Where are we now’, with lush and creamy incandescent guitars that transcend between left and right speakers in an oscillating motion. Mike Kinsella’s sweet vocals enter in a soft and delightful fashion. The intro concludes and the full band enters at the chorus. The bass and drums are pronounced and sonorous, with the production sounding far superior to the first album. The second verse kicks in with gentle rim clicks on the snare and the same dreamy guitar pickings. The track concludes in the same delicate way it started. ‘My instincts are the enemy’ commences with syncopated arguments between fender-drenched guitars, which dabble in sweet harmonics, while an opulent bass tone drives the track. The track changes dramatically half way though, where an offbeat drone of guitars is off set by a steady and furious drumming pattern. ‘Home is where the haunt is’ draws a delicate balance between acoustic and electric guitars and Kinsella’s vocals are supported by soft and placid harmonies. The track utilises a sweet glockenspiel, leading in to the last chorus. ‘Born to lose’ teases the listener with a complex rhythm in the verses, which makes the first beat of each bar hard to pinpoint, however the track seems to flow beautifully. The choruses are played to a straight beat, which centres the song. The instrumental outro is driven by a brash bass tone, which fades out slowly.
‘I’ve been so lost for so long’ begins as the one of the key moments on the album that delineates the original 1999 sound of the band, however when the chorus begins, it brings the sound back to the 2016 version of American Football. The track finishes with a bass driven instrumental reflection. ‘Give me the gun’ is piloted by a heavily syncopated hi-hat, which at times battles to subjugate an equally weighted syncopated ride cymbal. The track ends with a hypnotic pulsating drone of guitars and drums. The next track, ‘I need a drink (or two or three)’ slowly fades in with the signature trumpet sound from drummer Steve Lamos. Lamos moves from trumpet to the drums with intricate and complex drum fills littered throughout the song. ‘Desire gets in the way’ kicks off with a typical guitar picking sound found in the 1999 album, but Kinsella’s voice drops in to the track and announces that this is definitely a new song from the new album. The track moves to a beautiful instrumental section, which delicately repeats towards the conclusion. The final track ‘Everyone is dressed up’ has a similar feel to the first track, and calmly makes its way to the end of the album.
This album has been a pleasant surprise for devoted fans. American Football have delivered a remarkable body of work that will surely allow a new generation to fall in love with this inspiring and prodigious band. 'American Football' is out now on Polyvinyl Records.
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