American Football's original triumph, on their 1999 self-titled debut, was to reunite two shy siblings: emo and post-rock. It was a pioneering album where lyrical clarity was obscured and complicated by the stealth musical textures surrounding it. Like Slint's Spiderland, or Codeine's The White Birch, even Talk Talk's Laughing Stock, American Football asked far more questions than it cared to answer. But there wasn't a band around anymore to explain it, anyway. The three young men who made the album – Mike Kinsella, Steve Holmes, and Steve Lamos – split up pretty much on its release. 15 years later, American Football reunited (now as a four-piece, with the addition of Nate Kinsella). They played far larger shows than in their original incarnation and recorded their long-anticipated second album, 2016's American Football (LP2). The release was widely praised, but the band members still felt like their best work was yet to come.
Enter American Football (LP3). The band used the same producer, Jason Cupp, and recorded the album at the same studio (Arc Studios in Omaha, NE) as its predecessor – yet they approached it in a markedly different way. There was a determination to let the songs breathe, to trust in ideas finding their own pace. The final result is a definite, and deliberate, stretching of the band. As a result, LP3 is less obviously tethered to the band's past than the second album. An immediate contrast between LP3 and its two predecessors is its cover. The two previous albums featured the exterior and interior of a residence in the band's original hometown of Urbana, IL, by the photographer Chris Strong. But American Football knew that LP3 was an outside record. Instead of the familiar house, this time the cover photo (again by Strong) features open, rolling fields on Urbana's borders. It is a sign of the album's magnitude in sound, and of the band's boldness in breaking away from home comforts.
LP3 is contemplative, rich, expressive, yet with a queasy undercurrent. It is heavy with expectancy, revealing its ideas slowly, eliciting the hidden stories people carry around with them. As on the first album, the lyrics on LP3 may seem confessional and concentrated, but the more you scrutinize them, the further their meaning slinks away. The album also features Hayley Williams from Paramore on the album's catchiest moment, "Uncomfortably Numb," and Elizabeth Powell, of the Québécoise act Land Of Talk. Mike wrote lyrics in French especially for her. Single colored 180g vinyl LP edition with standard jacket packaging.
2. Every Wave To Ever Rise (ft. Elizabeth Powell)
3. Uncomfortably Numb (ft. Hayley Williams)
4. Heir Apparent
5. Doom In Full Bloom
6. I Can’t Feel You (ft. Rachel Goswell)
7. Mine To Miss
8. Life Support