If Braid‘s 2014 album No Coast was the blueprint for the return of the ‘90s emo guard, then Rainer Maria and American Football are its wise tenants. The former’s S/T continued the graceful through-line of Rainer Maria’s career, proving to be the scene’s most consistently innovative. But American Football’s second self-titled album provoked something of an existential question: What happens to the notebook scribblings of a lost, 20-something hopeless romantic at middle age? They flourish at the crinkliest pages.
American Football has announced its third self-titled album (aka LP3), featuring guest vocals from Paramore‘s Hayley Williams, Land of Talk‘s Elizabeth Powell and Slowdive‘s Rachel Goswell. That’s a broad spectrum of singers who share that earnest feeling in which emo so deeply resides. None of them appears on the first single, but “Silhouettes” does signify a vivid shift in songwriting for the band.
Vibraphone and bells are well trod territory, instruments that helped to originally distinguish American Football from its peers, but never have they been used to such compositional effect. Like the most exciting step forward from LP2 (“Give Me the Gun“) or its labelmates in Aloha, “Silhouettes” billows out from from shadows with minimalist overtones. “Oh, the muscle memory / It must take to stay close to me,” Mike Kinsella sings over rumbling atmospherics, those signature overlapping guitar arpeggios and a choir of ghosts. This song moves at an insistent, almost menacing pace, as synth strings and Nate Kinsella’s bellowing bass swarm with memory, haunting the melody.
American Football’s third self-titled album comes out March 22 via Polyvinyl Records.