A reunion is a tricky thing to get right. When a widely adored band returns after a long time away, there’s a daunting amount of room for disappointment. Some bands try to recapture the lightning they managed to bottle two decades ago and end up sounding like shambling zombies of their former selves, unable – as anyone is – to return in their middle age to being the people they were in their youth. Others don’t concern themselves with new music at all and simply play the old songs to the people who want to hear them with only half the energy and sincerity it would take to make them worth the ticket price. Emo has seen examples of both models in the past half-decade, as the genre’s revival sparked a renewed interest in its golden-era bands. But it’s also seen a third model. A select few groups have found a sweet spot of honesty and genuineness in who they are now, combined with a connection to and awareness of who they were twenty years ago. It’s in this sweet spot that a band manages to hang on to their soul.
As reunited emo bands go, American Football are anomalous in that their second time around has by now lasted longer than their first. All the mythos and reverence that came to surround the band in the time that they were gone was built in only three years and one record together. It puts them in a unique position, that of being on only their third album 22 years after they formed; they’re a band still exploring and expanding their sound, yet with the maturity that comes from age and experience.