[sic] Magazine

American Football LP3

“I’ve cried in every room
When will it end, relentless adolescence?”

‘Life Support’

With American Football it never rains but it pours. The Illinois act continually finds itself the unwitting subject of quarreling between emo fans despite often being on the outside, looking in. This polarisation is something I have never fully understood. Music and film are not the same as sports franchises. Blind devotion isn’t a requirement in the appreciation of art.

American Football isn’t a football team.

Opening with drip drop glockenspiel LP3 is the latest in an impressive run of self-titled releases (Move over House Of Love.) and relatively quickly follows 2016’s LP2. Previous to that there had been a 17 year period of inactivity following their legendary 1999 debut. The twinkling little April showers of ‘Silhouettes’ slowly build toward cloudburst as the main track kicks in soaking the listener in warm, emotive alt rock.

“Tell me again. What’s the allure of inconsequential love?”, Mike Kinsella coos on ‘Silhouettes’, his lyrics highly suggestive of a sexual indiscretion within a couple. ‘Oh the muscle memory, it must take to stay close to me’. It could just as easily be interpreted as a riposte to those aforementioned partisan fans.

LP3 is a triumph. Guest vocalists play their part here; notably Hayley Williams on ‘Uncomfortably Numb’, Elizabeth Powell on the superb ‘Every Wave To Ever Rise’ and Rachel Goswell on the beautiful ‘I Can’t Feel You’. These duets work really well, yet LP3 is firmly Kinsellas’ record. The frontman has come a long way from the croaky murmurings of LP1. LP2 showed us he could be beautiful (See ‘Home Is Where The Haunt Is’). On LP3 Kinsella is controlled and assured throughout and there are many more highlights as a result. Long term fans can rest assured, those trademark guitar archipelagos can still be found across this new release, even the occasional math-rocky time signature. Yet these angular meanderings consistently combine to form comforting patterns.

The band has developed noticeably since ‘Never Meant’ and their fabled beginnings. Once edgy and challenging like a millennial Slint, here on LP3 American Football seem so much more comfortable in their own skin. ‘Doom In Full Bloom’ is the only real throwback toward ‘old’ American Football. The other songs sparkle with warmth and optimism. A track like ‘I Can’t Feel You’ has more in common with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours than it does with Spiderland. ‘Mine To Miss’ and ‘Life Support’ complete a breathtaking closing trio.

American Football are leaving ‘the house’ where they grew up behind them. They found their voice on LP2. On LP3 they found back their songs.

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