American Football is one of the most iconic bands—if not the most iconic band—of the Midwest emo, emo revival, math-rock, and post-rock movements. And before you ask, they genuinely are Midwest emo, hailing from Urbana, Illinois.
Although American Football made a recent comeback with other studio albums in the late 2010s and 2020s, for a long time, they were considered to be among the class of single-album marvels. Even with the additions of their second and third self-titled albums (often referred to as LP2 and LP3, respectively), their first album is far and away their work with the largest impact.
There are a few fan favourites of the album’s songs, but one of its strengths is the ways in which the songs work together to form the full artistic scope of the album. They interact with one another in order to create the album as an entire piece of art that stands better together than alone. However, there are still some standout songs that grab us by the lapels.
Below, we’re ranking the songs from worst to best.
Ranking every song on American Football’s ‘LP1’ from worst to best
9. ‘For Sure’
Don’t get me wrong. This song isn’t bad by any means, but it just isn’t among the go-to standouts of the album, and it narrowly gets shoved into last place. The thing about it, though, is it feels like important support to the style and the rest of the album.
The melody of the guitar definitely embodies the twinkly emo sound that they’re known for, and the trumpet carrying the first half before the vocals come in is great. But it’s only up from here.
8. ‘You Know I Should Be Leaving Soon’
The intro to this song is highly recognisable for any teen of the era, as is the case with many of their songs. But they take the twangy instrumentation to a new level hon ‘You Know I Should Be Leaving Soon’. This is the experimental side of American Football that people love.
Again, this song is a great supporter of the album, but probably not the first choice when it comes to picking a favourite to bump time and time again. Still, a great song nonetheless.
7. ‘The One With The Wurlitzer’
‘The One With the Wurlitzer’ is a song that many people think of as simply an album supporter, but in my humble opinion, it’s so much more. It’s the last song on the album, and it’s definitely on the subtle side, but that’s a part of what makes it so brilliant, the gentle hum of fair and the excitement that precedes it can be felt in every note.
The use of Wurlitzer and trumpet on this track perfectly encapsulate the feeling of the album as a whole and the musical trajectory, and that cements this song’s status a bit higher on the list.
There haven’t been many reasons for fans of American Football to sharpen their pitchforks and start a mob intent with my death, however, placing ‘Honestly!?’ so ow in the rankings may well do it. Don’t get me wrong, I love this song with all my heart, and it has an extremely emotional and unique melody, but it’s one of many like that on the album.
The lyrical and vocal contributions here are particularly impressive and distinct, which sets it apart from a lot of the other songs on the album, but again, it contributes to the overall arc of the album’s engaging narrative.
5. ‘I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional’
This is one of the easily recognisable American Football tracks that also arguably incorporates more of the emo trajectory that the band would ultimately influence. The progression of the melody and the intense vocals all give that impression.
Truthfully, though, this one is a great listen, and it sits in a very unique slot on the album. I maintain that LP1 would not be the same without this song.
4. ‘But The Regrets Are Killing Me’
‘But The Regrets Are Killing Me’ layers rolling drums onto stacked guitar twinkles for a delightfully math-tinged emo track. This is one for late-night drives and satisfying vinyl listening sessions, no doubt about it. It’s so pristine in its direction that it sounds like the last drag on a Malboro cigarette.
Additionally, the little guitar break in the pre-chorus is distinctly satisfying, perhaps just because the melody is so well-composed.
3. ‘Summer Ends’
This is another classic American Football track—the emo guitars and the trumpet on ‘Summer Ends’ blend like the sounds were made for each other, and tossing in the vocals just sets it as a song that’s a cut above the rest. Few subjects are as ripe for emo-driven picking as the final days of summer, but American Football bring a uniqueness to the fore.
For those who come to LP1 for that soft, sensitive sound, this is likely a fan favourite. However, some can find it an acquired taste. The way the song evolves mirrors the album as a whole, though, which is a part of its genius.
2. ‘Stay Home’
‘Stay Home’ is another popular choice among American Football fans for the favourite of the album, and it’s easy to see why. With the smooth sway of the instrumentation and the very majestic quality of the whole thing, it just wraps you up in this world that makes you forget all else.
It’s a beautiful song and it could honestly go on a loop forever, which means that it absolutely deserves a spot near the top of this list, although it does narrowly get edged out.
1. ‘Never Meant’
Was this even a question? ‘Never Meant’ is a gentle, beautiful and beguiling piece of songwriting. It’s true, American Football is a band for whom the most popular song and the best song go hand in hand, and why wouldn’t they? You come into a band like this in order to dive in and love every inch of their music, it provides their fandom with a deep pool of water ready to dive into.
Even though the melody and the twinkly guitar are some of the most recognisable of the genre, the lyrics and the song as a whole come together as a satisfying listen throughout. It kicks off the album, and boy, does it do so beautifully.