Who'd have thought American Football would be releasing music in 2016? Most people would've thought they were a done deal when they called it quits in 2000 after a mildly short but successful career with the eponymous debut in 1999. But, lo and behold, here it is. The band will be releasing a second, new eponymous debut (yes, another American Football) in October. You can read up on that here, but the first single from the album is worth words alone.
After being absent from the studio as a group for so long, it would be easy to expect that there would be a loss of quality, or even identity. The band has been reunited since 2014, playing shows here and there since then. Yet here we are with a new single, a song titled 'I've Been So Lost For So Long', and it sounds as fresh as the first record sounded. The formulas are all the same, but there's still something that's still familiar about it. Everything you loved about the first album is still here.
Sure, they haven't recorded together as a band, but they've mostly all been pursuing music still in the time since they became inactive and now. By no means are these musicians rusty; if anything, they've honed their skills and found their niches. 'I've Been So Lost' is a surprisingly intricate track, but the performance of it makes it sound almost easy. It takes musicianship to make a song like this not only stay true to the identity of the band, but also sound so blissfully basic.
That being said, this song is intricate in its performance, not in its production. It's barebones as it can get - there doesn't seem to be much layering going on at all. It's a cleanly tracked with two guitars, a bass track, drum track, and vocal track song. No tricks or background noises anywhere. It's honest-to-heart math rock. No strings attached.
The old habits of the band are still here - the reverberating guitars and ever-shifting time signatures are all still present, and its what makes this track so intricate. The strumming pattern is relatively simple, but there's two different strumming patterns that don't necessarily follow each other, but they work together almost seamlessly. The time signature change in the choruses are also pretty odd, and its impressive that it flows so fluidly when switching between the verse and chorus.
17 years has brought some changes, though. Better production will have some complain that the track may lose some rawness that the originals had. It seems doubtful that better production techniques will ultimately make the track less of an enjoyable experience, but it may miss that extra touch if you were a hardcore fan of the band's previous work. Age is also a factor with Mike Kinsella - his belting antics from the previous works may not be so crisp anymore; he's 39 now - at the time of the former record, he would've been 22. There's no belting or uber-emotional moments on this track, but its yet to be seen if it'll return on the album. This track isn't meant to be anything overly dramatic though; it's fine being subtle.
American Football is finally back, and their new single shows a lot of promise. American Football II (for lack of differentiation from the former) has a lot of potential if 'I've Been So Lost' is any indicator of the work to come. It's honest and intrinsically an American Football song, but also shows growth and maturity. They're not the same band as they were in your teenage years (unless you're a teenager, of course). But maybe it's better that way. Perhaps the band has grown with you.
Rating: 80 / 100