Published Mar 20, 2019American Football are a product of their time and place. Their debut self-titled LP cemented the short-lived band's reputation amongst emo aficionados in the ensuing decades, despite it being a product of three bandmates barely out of their teens.
Unfortunately, their followup record in 2016 failed to capture the fragility of American Football's debut. Mike Kinsella's vocals couldn't grapple with the glossy production, which was a far cry from the band's lo-fi roots. Consequently, it comes as a surprise that American Football's third effort cements the band's place in the contemporary post-rock pantheon.
On this album, American Football's embrace of experimental production leads to a more confident sound. This is clear on "Silhouettes"; opening with a cascade of ringing bells, the track moves into a thrilling, math-rock guitar riff, reminiscent of the band's earlier work. However, the band layer the track with innumerable strands of instrumentation, reminiscent of shoegaze music.
The result is an LP that feels robust, with American Football exploiting the full potential of creative instrumentation. "I Can't Feel You," featuring Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, opens with the breathy vocals of a choir, even slipping in some distorted guitar riffs. Moreover, "Uncomfortably Numb," featuring Paramore's Hayley Williams, creates a compelling meditation on aging, while also remaining grounded in American Football's affection for an eternal sense of youth.
This album is an advancement rather than a return to form. Despite their previous effort struggling against the weight of the band's dormancy, this album is a moving experience that brings with it a sense of fading youth. (Polyvinyl)