Quick Band Bio: Mike Kinsella is known today mainly for his work with his solo project Owen, but back in 1999 he was a part of a band named American Football. Kinsella worked with Steve Holmes(guitar) and Steve Lamos(drums/trumpet) to complete the band, but they would ultimately only release a single EP and one album before disbanding to approach other projects.
It’s easy to lose track of American Football’s self titled album because the band called it quits after releasing it and because Kinsella is now more well known for his solo project. American Football does need to be remembered though, even if it forces you to make a conscious effort to do so, because it’s indie folk/folk-rock done fantastically well.
American Football succeeds because they keep the music busy despite the simplicity. The songs never demand your attention, but the shifting song sections, overlapping vocals, and inclusion of the trumpet do their part to make sure the album doesn’t lose your attention. The album glides by amazingly quick thanks to this, and it helps with the perception of the album as a whole product rather than a collection of ideas.
Despite the opening lyrics to “Honestly” (“Honestly I can’t remember/all my teenage feelings/and the meanings/They seemed too/see-through/to be true”) Kinsella has a knack for writing from a late teen’s perspective. Not in the way of believed invincibility or loosely thought concepts, but capturing the innocence that’s present during that time period and displaying it alongside self-reflection. The lyrics stay sophisticated within the mindset though, a brilliant example being in the song “For Sure” where Kinsella describes a relationship as “Relatively stable/Tentatively able”. It’s beautiful, honest, and so simple. these are the qualities that shine in American Football