words by jess goodman
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met… And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
– Hector, The History Boys (Alan Bennett)
It’s a rare and wonderful thing to encounter a band that, from the moment you hear them, it feels as though their words and melodies could be drawn from a soundtrack to your own innermost thoughts. Football, etc are such a band. Displaying a heart-on-sleeve vulnerability with a goosebumps-inducing flair, on their new album Corner the trio are at their “most accessible” and “most honest to ourselves” yet.
With brand new track “Eleven” – streaming here for you from today – the band showcase their characteristically stirring songwriting. “You can’t control who controls you,” Lindsay Minton sings, her tranquil delivery ringing clear with resignation to whatever follows. Sparkling melodies and shimmering refrains resound with a fresh intensity, boldly powering forwards towards the promise of escape. “And now the world is upside down, and I can’t tell the sky from the ground,” Minton continues. “I’d rather be somewhere else.”
“The song is a reference to the TV show Stranger Things,” Minton tells us. “It’s not something I’ve ever done before – write a song about a TV show.” Taking inspiration from the smash hit Netflix series (due to return for a second series this Halloween) in which a group of kids band together to rescue their missing friend among a whole lot of sinister goings on, the song is “imagining a narrative from the character Eleven’s perspective,” Minton describes.
“I think the idea actually started with the number,” she recalls. “We were looking for soccer terms for the titles of the songs. Eleven was something that came up, which instantly made me think about the character in the TV show. It went from there.” Football, etc have always chosen sports terms for their titles. “I thought it’s vague enough, but also captured the feeling,” Minton explains, leaving the interpretation of everything they make down to you, the listener.
Together with Mercy Harper and Daniel Hawkins, the trio have, on ‘Corner’, created a record they describe as “Football, etc matured but returning to their roots.” “I think coming off our last EP we wanted to return to more of our native sound,” Minton states. “For the EP we were kind of going for a darker sound, and we were experimenting a little bit with that,” Harper expands. “For this one we wanted to play more of what just came naturally, and go back to the sound that we were making for our first and second LPs.”
Describing this approach as “more simple and sparkly, and a little bit more fun,” the album boasts a shimmering quality it’s hard to draw away from. Lead single “Save” ebbs and flows with the turbulence and changeability of the ocean within its lyrics. “Nutmeg” paints a portrait almost vivid enough to step inside. “U20” is a strident ballad that builds from intricacy and intimacy to anthemic proportions and back again.
“The lyrical content being a little more tumultuous, that’s me trying to explain a moment or a feeling,” Minton illustrates of her songwriting. “It’s a simple kind of energy,” Harper adds of their music. “We’re letting ourselves play something a little bit more simple, and the simple nature of the music lets the chorus and the vocals that are there come through.” In seeking simplicity, the outfit have created a sound with the strength to sweep you off your feet.
While the new record does see the band return to a lighter, more nuanced sound, a lot has changed for the outfit in the eight years since they formed. “It’s funny,” Harper laughs. “When we were very first together Lindsay wouldn’t play music with me.” Now considered as “an integral part of our relationship,” it’s not the only thing that’s changed since 2009. “We were playing with a different drummer,” Minton states.
With the addition of Hawkins to the fold (who also designs all of the group’s artwork), now the band are as tight as can be. “We don’t really play music on our own,” Harper mulls. “I don’t really sit at home and write a song, and neither does Lindsay. Even though we live together, she and I don’t work on songs independent of working with Danny.” Writing songs from their practice room in Huston, the trio have tapped into their perfect formula. “The three of us in a room, someone might just play a little something, and then we all just go off of that,” Minton enthuses. “Typically we’ll just craft a whole song right there and then.”
Recorded over just five days, the ten tracks that make up ‘Corner’ are Football, etc’s most immediate offering yet. “We ended up tracking I think four or five songs in the first day, which was really a lot to accomplish,” Minton recalls. Tracking everything live in the same room together, the record is a potent showcase of just how tight a unit the group has become.
Now, sharing the first songs from the release, the excitement is tangible. “It’s always nerve wracking,” Minton admits, “but it’s also interesting. We make assumptions about what people might like, and sometimes we’re surprised by the feedback that we hear.” “That’s always an odd one,” Harper agrees. “You think for so long that one particular song on the record is The Song, and then it’s not. Some other song is The Song. You can’t really guess that element of it. That’s really exciting.”
‘Corner’ LP is released on May 26th via Community Records & Barely Regal