Joan of Arc – Boo!Human

Tim, Mike and Nate Kinsella are musical chameleons. Their resumes boast many of your favorite bands or, if you’re not old enough, your favorite bands’ influences. The brothers, having fully matured, have decidedly created their own pace with creating music and are now offering a new album through their classic project Joan of Arc on Polyvinyl Records. This record, Boo Human, is a creation of the Kinsellas, fellow bandmates Bobby Burg and Sam Zurick and a slew of musician friends.

Joan of Arc took a stack of songs and fashioned a sign-up sheet allowing the album’s participants to drop into the recording studio whenever they could over the course of a week to collaborate on Boo!Human. Fourteen contributors to the album include musicians who have previously collaborated with Wilco, Iron & Wine, Beth Orton and more, making each track on the album wonderfully unique while maintaining classic Joan of Arc appeal.

Much of Boo!Human is rather lo-fi and sounds a great deal like another Kinsella project, American Football, exemplified in “Laughter Reflected Back,” “A Tell-Tale Penis” (download) and “If There Was A Time #1.” The vocals on the album are often very lo-fi or stressed, turning into a falsetto in which notes attempted aren’t always reached. The lo-fi quality of the vocals works best in “Just Pack or Unpack” as a contrast to the hi-fi electric music underneath. Warbled and warped guitar riffs begin the song then slow down becoming staccato then syncopated until no actual beat is discernible. Snare drum and cymbal crashes join in with the muddied guitar and the song ends as a barrage of noise.

As in “Just Pack or Unpack,” a warping effect takes over the keys in “Lying and Cheating Mind,” which also features random static, distortion and computer-like beeps, “Vine On A Wire,” “If There Was A Time #1” and “The Surrender #1.” The latter three also contain instrumentation that is far too repetitive, taking the songs from interesting to boring within the first two minutes. Venturing into more interesting territory is “Everywhere I Go” with its zillion different percussion instruments, plucky guitar and finger snaps. The haunting seriousness and poetry of “9/11 2” and the twinkling percussion in “Insects Don’t Eat Bananas” also veers away from tiresome repetition.

Joan of Arc has put together an extremely unique album that shies away from conventional recording methods lending to itself to a lack of cohesiveness, yet it manages to work for Kinsella and company. Boo!Human will be available on Polyvinyl Records May 20, 2008.

01. Shown and Told
02. Laughter Reflected Back
03. Just Pack or Unpack
04. 9/11 2
05. A Tell-Tale Penis
06. Everywhere I Go
07. Vine on a Wire
08. Insects Don’t Eat Bananas
09. Lying and Cheating Mind
10. If There Was a Time #1
11. The Surrender #1
12. If There Was a Time #2
13. The Surrender #2
14. So-And-So

Joan of Arc: website | myspace | download “A Tell-Tale Penis”
Polyvinyl Records: website | myspace

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