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American Football Is Back After a 17-Year Hiatus

MusicAmerican Football Is Back With a New Song After a 17-Year Hiatus

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – FEBRUARY 27: Guitarist Mike Kinsella of American Football performs at Noise Pop 2016 festival at Regency Ballroom on February 27, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)

The godfathers of emo-rock have returned for the first time since 1999—with a (very good) new song.

In 1999, the chance a group of college seniors could release a record sans label and see it become a generational soundtrack was one in a million. (After all, Napster had just launched its nuclear missile at the music industry, and its effects had yet to be felt.) But American Football's 1999 self-titled album became just that, and it's now heralded as one of the pillars of emo rock.

Today, 17 years after American Football debuted, the band is back with a new single and the announcement of a new album. (It too is titled American Football, showing that the group has little regard for search engine optimization, even with knowledge of it.)

When the group graduated from the University of Illinois in 1999, the band unceremoniously broke up, mostly because college was over. Mike Kinsella, the group's frontman, has since become a mysterious indie-rock favorite, releasing several albums under the name Owen. Meanwhile, the rest of the band has gone on to lead very non-rock star lives; Steve Lamos, the band's drummer, is an English professor. So why now? According to an interview with Pitchfork published today, the band getting back together came naturally after a reunion tour in 2014. "It became, like, 'How can we keep having excuses to hang out together once every month? We can’t just keep playing the same nine songs for people…'," Kinsella told the publication, which, like American Football, has its roots in Chicago.

The new single, "I’ve Been So Lost for So Long," hits many of the familiar notes of American Football's moody, turn-of-the-millennium classic. There's Kinsella's crisp, borderline-whiny voice (which itself became the blueprint for emo rock frontmen, and today he seems more confident than ever singing). There are rolling guitars, the backbone of almost every American Football song. The drums are more prevalent than they were on the first album, while the slow-paced horns have disappeared—but the band effortlessly re-channels the energy of its first album.

To Y2k-era teens who wanted emotional transparency when the music landscape seemed to prefer posturing, American Football was a godsend. Returning to that space after all this time could have easily gone wrong, but at least so far, it hasn't.

American Football (LP2) is set for an October 21 release via Polyvinyl Records.

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