There are many for whom 17 years has been time enough to wait for a follow-up to American Football’s 1999’s debut (also self-titled). But, while an increasing fandom in the intervening years has seen the group’s stock soar, the possibility of new material has remained distant and vague even after 2014’s reformation.
Yet, perhaps buoyed by the success of the reformation – and certainly bolstered by the addition of Nate Kinsella on bass – here we are, with American Football once again set to wow a new generation with a new album that feels just as poised and perfect as their timing.
‘American Football’ (2) retains a similar dynamic to its predecessor – built around the amazing guitar work of Steve Holmes and Mike Kinsella; beautiful clean tones form the perfect layer for Kinsella’s cool indie-rock vocal. Backed by the impressive beats of drummer (and trumpeter) Steve Lamos, tracks like ‘My Instincts Are the Enemy’ are a pleasure to play again and again.
This is the sound of a band with plenty to reflect on in the two decades since they first made music together, and comfortably at ease in the studio – the sounds are effortlessly warm and clear – everything has its place. Tracks like ‘Give Me the Gun’ and ‘Desire Gets in the Way’ demonstrate the fluidity with which the four musicians gel; there’s no need for overly-produced sounds and arrangements that plagued the output of bands that emerged in their wake.
Kinsella says it best on album opener ‘Where Are We Now’ – “We’ve been here before but I don’t remember a lock on the door.” They’re at their best when looking backwards – perhaps the same is true for all of us?
American Football have delivered a stunning second album that was worth the wait and deserves to occupy the upper tiers of the end-year lists, as well as your music collection.
‘American Football’ by American Football is released on October 21st on Wichita Recordings.
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Adam Lewis (@adamlew86)