Between the twinkling glockenspiel that opens the third record by the beloved American Football and the roll call of guest stars, it’s apparent something’s changed since their iconic debut. It’s not just Mike Kinsella’s desire to leave behind his youth as he tells us on ‘Life Support’, “When will it end, relentless adolescence?”

American Football’s 1999 debut is the sound that came to define a generation of emo: detuned guitars, hushed breathy vocals and the kind of snappy one liners teens with lip-rings and eye-liner get tattooed on themselves. Cut to 2019 and American Football (LP3)’s sound is more expansive than ever, production is slick and Kinsella’s lyrics have matured along with him.

‘Uncomfortably Numb’ sees Kinsella reflect on aging “I blamed my father in my youth, now as a father I blame the booze,” and ironically bring together generations of emo. His conversational duet with reigning emo queen, Hayley Williams, oozes vulnerability through their cracked voices and picked guitar lines.

Nowhere is this preconception with ageing gracelessly more apparent than on the subtle ‘Heir Apparent’, which is lyrically loveable with Kinsella musing, “Selfishness is inherited, so what could I do?” This obsession with his, perhaps imagined, lack of dignity is nowhere to be seen in the band’s lengthy instrumental wanderings, which linger somewhere between a noisy post-rock and clean dream-pop sound. ‘I Can’t Feel You’ is a culmination of this sound, featuring Rachel Goswell of Slowdive on breathy backing vocals and overlapped layers of multi-instrumentals by newest member Nate Kinsella. It’s a literal rendering of Kinsella being “fluent in subtlety.”

The outdoor picture on the album cover is a clue as to what you’re getting yourself in for here. LP1 and LP2 have a house; they’re insular albums that take a deep dive into someone’s head from a specific moment in time. LP3 is an outdoor album where those blinkers fall off and they see how their individual fits into society as a whole. American Football have shown that a “reunion band” doesn’t have to just make a “reunion album,” they have something more to say and hopefully they won’t wait another 17 years before they tell us.