words: Jordan Gorsuch
Seventeen years. It has been seventeen years since American Football’s transcendent debut album that pioneered emo into the next decade. Yesterday, American Football unveiled a brand new single featured off of their upcoming self-titled album that is set for release October 21 on Polyvinyl Records.
“I’ve Been Lost for So Long” at first sounds like an admission from the band, addressing their lack of activity for almost two decades. However, the craftsmanship of the track is undeniable; American Football hasn’t lost a step since their long hiatus. If anything, they have come back with a more focused, introspective sound.
Mike Kinsella has been consistently releasing music under his solo-project Owen since American Football’s hiatus. Just this year, Kinsella released the subtly fantastic The King of Whys an album that saw him stepping out of his comfort zone and recors with outside help from S. Carey (from Bon Iver) and a backing set of musicians. The instrumentals were brassier and fuller, but the lyrical content was introspective and assured. Kinsella sang clearly about the troubles and joys of his marriage and the incredible self-doubt that plagues him. It is easy to hear how Kinsella’s experience with The King of Whys has bled into the newest single from American Football.
Gone are the jazzy drums and triumphant trumpets that were a signature of their landmark 1999 album. Here, we hear crystal clear guitars that serpentine and bounce off each other brightly with a rather simple drum backing. The sonic layering and confidence along with the less is more approach is another carry-over from Kinsella’s output as Owen. As a result, the track is able to breathe and does not feel overstuffed or anxious. It is exactly in their wheelhouse, but it does enough to differentiate itself from their exalted past.
The choruses give the track an intentionally disjointed feel as Kinsella asks if we can remind him “why I should wake up tomorrow?” The song is littered with references between the thin line (in the narrator’s head) between dream and reality.
American Football is back. Go ahead, pinch me. I’m not dreaming.