American Football LP2 Album Review

American Football LP2 Album Review

Andrew Kolba, Contributing Writer

American Football, Indiana rock group, came onto the scene in the late 90s with a handful of self-titled projects.

Consisting of singer/guitarist Mike Kinsella, guitarist Steve Holmes, and drummer Steve Lamos, the trio created a secret portrait of late adolescence and early adulthood at the turn of the millennium.

Although they made an impact on the Indiana indie music scene at the time, American Football’s legacy was initially underwhelming.

With Mike Kinsella being the only member to pursue music after the band’s 2000 disbandment, it seemed American Football would forever remain a small project used to pass the time between three early-20s college students in the late 90s.

However, nearly ten years later, the band garnered a modest following via music sharing sites. American Football’s new following steadily grew, prompting a reunion tour in 2014.

Now, 17 years after the release of their first full length album in 1999, the band has released a new album written and recorded by the original lineup, along with the addition of bassist Nate Kinsella.

The new album, American Football LP2, is approached with the same honestly and tender emotion the band channeled many years ago.

With the members nearing their early 40s, and the musically unprofessional members holding down jobs elsewhere (Holmes works an office job in Chicago; Lamos is a prominent author and professor at the University of Chicago), it would almost feel unnatural to have these three, different figures return to their emotionally driven, soft-rock roots. However, the group makes it feel anything but.

American Football not only is successful in weening off their adolescent personas, but have also proved to be resoundingly adept at portraying the feeling of reflecting on past memories with a melancholic, bittersweet taste in their mouths.

Retrospectively, the band opens the album by lyrically posing the question, “Where are we now?” as a literal reference to the band’s time spent apart.

As the album progresses, you gain a clear sense of where the band members are emotionally.

Lead singer, Mike Kinsella’s vocals have drastically aged since 1999, helping set the tone of the album.

Kinsella, now 39, utilizes his wistful voice to create a beautiful narrative to play over the ambient backdrop created by the band.

Unlike the longing for a lost love, which become a prominent and reoccurring theme in their 1999 LP, American Football illustrates newfound loves and marriages to remind us of the days gone by.

In the song Desire Gets in the Way, Mike Kinsella compares a raging fire to a feeling of sorrow which can only be relieved by his wife: “The fire burns incessantly. I can’t lie, I kind of like the pain. I know you’ll put it out. You always put it out, before it consumes me.”

The contrast between the band’s 1999 and 2016 lyrics propose an interesting timeline for the group.

American Football’s new album proves to be a worthy successor to their now-classic 1999 LP.

Their songwriting is smooth, fluent, and never feels forced to replicate what they had created years ago.

Additionally, it’s instrumentally crafted to fit the new story of these musicians who aren’t the young men they were during the band’s last outing.

American Football’s second LP will be able to serve as a soundtrack to a new generation as well as the listeners who closely resonate with the group’s new storytelling.