To fill in the gaps and have everything listed here, American Football's self-titled EP is needed to complete the circle. Three songs of Midwest emo, cunningly made with graceful twinkling and intimate singing. I recall a reviewer on a different site describing American Football’s music as a “walk down the block, kicking pebbles and tugging up with a warm jacket.” This music does have a certain feeling of the fall, or maybe springtime, and it’s a very nice alternative to the angst-ridden style of '90s emo.
But besides how wonderful the music is, there happens to be a certain introspect in the lyrics, thus, the angst-ridden statement above is whatever you take from it. Words written about desperation, insecurities, failure, one’s own thoughts, and aspirations are highly relatable, never ceasing to become images of self-delusion. We can relate to this.
Mike Kinsella and Steve Lamos carried on from their previous band, the One Up Downstairs, which can be called the precursor to American Football. After recruiting Steve Holmes, the band quickly made this EP, followed by their heavily praised self-titled LP. When separated, these three tracks stand alone and are just fine like that, but when they are collected with the LP, and given a good jam, the overall senses are blown, making what I consider to be a perfect album. American Football are the go-to band for anyone making '90s emo-revival music, and with artists like the very missed Colossal, newish groups Algernon Cadwallader, Monument, and the short-lived Midwest Pen Pals, you definitely should know that this music is very special, sprouting forth many children. Crazy to think that the band themselves probably didn't consider this back then in 1998.
The three tracks are “The One with the Tambourine”, “Letters and Packages” and “Five Silent Miles”. Each song has its own grace and security, pulling in the listener and giving one a possible type of calming quality that should be considered now and then. On the opening song, the melodies ride along and ring as if drops of water were falling into a puddle. Mike’s singing is a bit more delicate, often showing his voice hit its limits and begin to crack, but that’s what I love so much about it. Towards the end, the track slides off into a very nice riff, carried along in a distorted way that I wished they tried more often. On the next track there is a more mellowish vibe, sort of bringing the listener down to a lower level and having a conversation, but of a longing sort.
"Maybe everything is tragic and temporary.
Remember Esmé, age 13?
Already blasé and broken hearted, so elegant, so considerate.
If only she were older.
As a result of my history I’m afraid I’ll let you down.
If only we were older."
The last track is a wonderful conclusion, gliding along and setting the pace as if it were the final credits to one’s own story. A full-on instrumental, "Five Silent Miles" is a nice bridge into their self-titled LP, or maybe the bookend to whatever order you want to list their music. One EP and one LP, 12 tracks. This is all that American Football left behind and it’s perfect.