Can a follow up album that’s been 17 years in the waiting ever live up to the weight of expectation?
Nearly two decades since their debut album, one which laid the foundations of emo, American Football have finally released a new record. A twinkling guitar reveals the return of the much-loved Illinois band, before Mike Kinsella’s familiar vocals enter to announce “we’ve been here before / we’ll figure it out like that goddam door” on Where Are We Now.
It’s almost too easy to fall under their spell once again. The loose chemistry has survived but also feels like it’s been shored-up. Guitars entwine with precision on My Instincts Are The Enemy, their tonal shifts providing accent to Kinsella’s own neutral singing style. There’s a propulsive rhythm to Home Is Where The Haunt Is which elevates introspective lyrics like “Somethings never change, maybe that’s okay.” This reflective mood lingers over the album, but never sounds tired.
The quartet’s tightness as a unit allows the songs to skip along, even when the pace is plodding. It leads to highlights such as I Need A Drink (Or Two, Or Three) and closing track Everyone Is Dressed Up. As a trumpet joins in to lead the band off into the distance, it’s met with relief that American Football have delivered an album which can stand alongside their debut, and be enjoyed on its own merits.
Verdict: An introspective and thoughtful comeback