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CHICAGO SOFTCORE BAND FOOTBALLHEAD'S DEBUT ALBUM 'OVERTHINKING EVERYTHING' IS A COMFORT TO ANXIOUS MINDS

Kayla MorenoJun 20, 2023

Though they're just getting started, Footballhead is coasting on more than just potential. These pros know the tricks of the trade and have combined their strengths as performers to create a cohesive, impressive unit. At their debut, Footballhead provides their audience with a solid perspective of their current goals while hinting at what's to come. Overthinking Everything is a robust LP that transports listeners directly to Lake Michigan, with their favorite Portillo's order in hand.

Melodic, melancholy, yet hopeful and introspective, Overthinking Everything is relatable without trying too hard. Frontman Ryan Nolen's vocal chain is full of haunting delay and reverb sprinkled throughout most tracks. These choices nod to early pop-punk of the 90s, but they occasionally touch on modern indie sounds, too. Paired with lightly distorted, engaging guitar riffs (Liam Burns) and anxious drum lines (Robby Kuntz), the album is a look into Nolen's personal journal entry drafts. Full bass riffs (Adam Siska) complete each mix, guiding the songs with a mastery that is only obtained by a lifetime of practicing a craft.

"Tightrope" is a standout track. Both the music and lyrics encapsulate the song's themes. Anxiety does often leave people feeling like they're walking along a tightrope at all times. The energetic melody and danceable beat try to distract the listener from the narrator's overwhelming feelings. Still, the disguise cannot simply be held up by the song's whimsy alone. While paying close attention, listeners realize they're not the ones who need to be distracted from Nolen's thought processes. Additionally, the lead guitar riff could easily be mistaken for a Moog analog synth, commonly used by Footballhead's 90s and 00s influences.

Nolen's narration is reliable and self-aware within his lyricism. The song "Habits" takes the anxious feelings from songs like "Tightrope", aiming to positively transform them. He's not attempting to convince the audience that he "can fix everything," but rather, he's working on convincing himself. This lyrical technique can be found throughout Overthinking Everything. Brief moments of feigned confidence overtake Nolen's thoughts, allowing him periods of short-lived optimism.

The bass in "Habits" is phenomenal. It's nearly impossible to ignore these lines with a pro like Siska in the mix. His knack for using the bass line to compliment other parts is prevalent in this song specifically. He connects with Burns' driven guitar riffs seamlessly, avoiding rock music's tendency to stick to playing the root note throughout the whole song. These choices suggest that each performer had an equal say in what they'd be playing.  

The entire LP is carefully curated, but beginning with "Rug" and ending with the title track feels exceptionally intentional. Opening the album with a rug being pulled out from underneath the audience, Overthinking Everything showcases the realities of having a racing mind.

Footballhead's debut album is comforting, relatable, and exciting. Without any other context, I would have believed that Footballhead already had two studio LPs in their discography. Their polished musicianship, whimsical storytelling, and overall use of genre create a resonant body of work. Chicago softcore is constantly reinventing itself, and Footballhead is set to be a key player in the subgenre's next chapter.  

Stream Overthinking Everything by Footballhead on Spotify