Jake’s Jams: American Football

Every month return to Jake's Jams to read another music review by Jake Standerfer

Jake's Jams: American Football

In 1999, the Illinois, indie emo, math rock underscored band American Football released their breakout, self-titled LP. Met with mild popularity at the time, the record did not inspire the college-formed band to continue their musical ventures. Upon graduating and moving to separate parts of the country, the band split up and discontinued their music-making ventures. However, more than ten years later, the music scene began to change.

With the new wave of indie, garage-produced mild rock that came around 2010, the band and their single album began to gain traction and popularity, all centered around their release dated by more than ten years. Their soft, turning sound coupled by the emotional weight behind their music fit right in with the new wave of soft rock, despite the age of their last record. With this new niche, the group began to hint at collaborating together again. And led on by encouragement, in 2014, the group officially reunited to tour. And three years later, more than 17 years after the release of their last project, American Football has released another self-titled project, 2016’s American Football.

The surge of popularity around the band’s old sounds faced them with a decision. They could either continue producing music along the lines of their signature, drawn out sound, or they could push a new path and pioneer a new sound. And a new sound, to an extent, is what they achieve with this new LP. The standard Midwestern emo aesthetic is maintained by the new record, however, there are hints of other influences.

Especially with the use of vocals and specific melodies, a hint of folk is present in the release, a departure from the original straight delivery of the last album. In tracks such as “My Instincts Are the Enemy” and “Home Is Where the Haunt Is,” the alternating folk melodies prompt feelings of wilderness and home.

Also, the intricate, math rock laden melodies that nearly defined American Football are still exhibited, especially in tracks such as “I’ve Been So Lost for So Long,” where they underscore the entire track. However, it feels these intricacies are not expanded upon to the extent of past releases.

After 14 years of silence and separation, it’s almost an anomaly that American Football came together as they did, to not only perform, but to expand upon past sounds and create new ones. After jobs, families, and little music, they manage to come back, and come back successfully, marking American Football a project to appreciate.