This week, American Football will release the follow-up to their long-awaited sophomore album with LP3.
Emerging from a series of emo bands based out of Illinois, American Football burst onto the scene with their now critically acclaimed “LP1”, an album full of swirling guitar riffs and melancholy lyrics. That was in 1999, when frontman Mike Kinsella was only 22, and while American Football has never lost their easily recognizable sound, “LP3” shows that Kinsella and co. are older, wiser and more in tune with the sound they desire.
The album’s opener “Silhouettes,” is a sprawling emo epic that sets the tone for the rest of the record. The glittering guitars and placid bells laid against lyrics depict a couple struggling with issues of adultery, creating a stark contrast that leaves a lasting impression. Kinsella croons, “I’m a cloud when you come to me / Tell me again / What’s the allure of inconsequential love?”
Following “Silhouettes,” “Every Wave To Ever Rise” reflects the same theme of a beautiful yet terrible disaster. The show-stealing vocals from Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell transport this good break-up song to an incredible showcase of American Football’s ability to create the most haunting tracks. “Truth or dare / Love is the cross you bear / J’ai mal au cœur, c’est la faute de l’amour [My heart hurts, it’s love’s fault],” Powell whispers in French as she laments the loss of a lover.
“Uncomfortably Numb,” one of the three singles released prior to the full album, is the most hit-worthy of the tracklist. The metronomic beat lays the groundwork for a sentimental track about the struggles of growing up as Kinsella and Paramore’s Haley Williams deliver a call-and-response,
“The lessons / The lessons
Are so much / Are so much
The further you get from home / The further I get from home
How will you exist / How will I exist
I’ll let you know.”
The track speaks further toward the growing theme at this point in the album. There is an expectancy that when we grow old, everything becomes easier and becomes financially, emotionally and psychologically more sound. However, Kinsella seems to argue the opposite. The struggles are still there, but we just learn to hide them better because of this societal expectation that we should have everything figured out by now.
With an instrumental intro reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, “I Can’t Feel You” is a desperate cry for help towards a distant significant other. Featuring the voice and guitar of shoegaze hero Rachel Goswell, the track finds Kinsella pleading with a significant other for a connection that seems to have been lost for some time now, “The whispers unfold (I can’t hear you) / Antagonist unknown (I can’t read you) / If every quarrel’s braced alone (I don’t believe you) / Is this communication?”
With a fluctuating bassline and the signature American Football guitar work, “Mine To Miss” is maybe the most instrumentally satisfying of the tracks that make up “LP3.” While the song possibly lacks in lyrical quality, using somewhat cliché lines like “My head is an unmade bed” and “I’ll miss you in the next life,” Kinsella makes up for it in the incredible arrangement of the song as a whole. Again incorporating the eerie bells heard earlier in “Silhouettes” and a chorus that will make your heart ache, American Football still delivers the goods despite an eye roll or two from the lyrics.
“LP3” finds American Football at the most mature stage of the band’s career. With most of the band members now serving roles as fathers, husbands and aged professionals, the songwriting of American Football follows suit. Finding inspiration from the perils of adult life, Kinsella presents a letter overflowing with lamentation, truthfulness and reconciliation.