That I’m posting American Analog Set content in 2023 isn’t entirely bewildering – that Numero Group was turning their reissue sights on the Austin dreampop band’s catalog was well known with a box set set for 2024, and a couple of rarities had already quietly surfaced on streaming services in the last few months.
But that I would be writing about new AmAnSet material almost 20 years since their last release Set Free is absolutely a surprise. That the lineup from the second incarnation of AmAnSet was still casually playing together wasn’t a secret – The Austin Chronicle reported on it back in April when news of the box set surfaced:
“Numero has asked for whatever is under the rug,” shares frontman Andrew Kenny. “They’re sitting on a ton of old photographs and posters and demo versions.” AmAnSet isn’t actively planning a reunion, but the band’s Know By Heart-era lineup – Kenny, drummer Mark Smith, bassist Lee Gillespie, keyboardist Craig McCaffrey, percussionist Sean Ripple – has been quietly playing and recording in Kenny’s garage on Monday nights for years now. “It’s kind of a cool uncle’s club – a subset of dad rock,” laughs Kenny. “We just really enjoy getting together and sharing that language we spent years developing together. We’re not in a rush to complicate it.”Crosstalk: The American Analog Set Due for Numero Group Reissue Treatment, and More Music News @ The Austin Chronicle
But they certainly didn’t hint that anyone would be rolling tape any time soon.
But they did – or more accurately, already did – and the result is For Forever, a new full-length that will be released independently by the band on October 27 – yeah, in less than two weeks. The official bio offers an idea of where their heads were when writing:
For those unfamiliar with The American Analog Set, this should be a simultaneously dark and vibrant introduction. Troubled lyrics permeate throughout, and the accompanying sounds are occasionally damaged and snarling. Not all things languid and dreamlike from past records have been abandoned or forgotten, but the dreams represented here are darker. While the previous eras of the band are referenced, they are carried forward and incorporated without a hint of patronizing nostalgia. For Forever is a document of a group that acknowledges their past while they advance into new territories and evolve.The American Analog Set Announce First New Album In 18 Years @ Stereogum
And considering that the album was actually written and recorded from 2015 to 2019, one can only imagine how much darker it’d have been if they knew what was coming.
In properly retro style, they’ve opted to not stream any previews but instead have a couple of – wait for it – MP3 files. “Camp Don’t Count” is easily one of the loudest and heaviest numbers in their repertoire, while “Konika & Maliko” hews a little closer to their older material though again with an urgency that would have been unthinkable in their earlier days.
The American Analog Set were a real fave in the early aughts and I have fond memories tied to The Fun Of Watching Fireworks and Know By Heart in particular. I’m glad they’re back, even if just for a little while.