Joan of Arc

Boo! Human

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Boo! Human just wouldn't be a Joan of Arc record without strategic modes of operation involving some matter of constraint and shifting lineups; here it's reported to involve a lone week of recording time and a simple sign-up sheet for musicians willing to back Tim Kinsella's songs and vocals. (For the most part, this entails Joan of Arc regulars Sam Zurick, Bobby Burg, and Mike Kinsella, plus others including Wilco's Leroy Bach, Bonnie "Prince" Billy regular Emmett Kelly, and Town and Country's Josh Abrams and Ben Vida.) Most similar in sound and execution to So Much Staying Alive and Lovelessness, Boo! Human matches Kinsella's intricate journalistic observations with the band's jarring, occasionally atonal accompaniment. As with the best Joan of Arc, however, vocals and music follow the same intriguing twists and turns -- never following the well-worn path, but investigating intriguing byways and always arriving at the same destination. The sound is fleshed out much more than Joan of Arc has been for some time, and it's an easy album to be affected by -- at least for fans of confessional post-rock, Chicago style. "Just Pack or Unpack" features excellent group interplay to bring Kinsella's lyrics to fruition, and a no-holds-barred flair that encompasses several brief interludes for atonal guitar runs that slowly peak and even more slowly dissipate. Refreshingly, Kinsella keeps his harshest lyrics brief, and the group varies their sound accordingly, whether it's clashing strings on the minute-long "9/11 2" or the contentment and contemplation on the next track, "A Tell-Tale Penis." (The music on the latter brings out the emotion of Kinsella's lyric, "Once we spent our afternoons dancing in our living room/ Now she's given in to her most unlit corners too soon.") If ever a singer/songwriter seemed tailor-made for Chicago's avant-garde/post-rock community, it has to be Tim Kinsella.

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