Eventually, All at Once is the second album Joan of Arc released in 2006, and is the true follow-up to 2004's Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain, though the Joan of Arc Presents: Guitar Duets collection and The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc (a batch of B-sides, comp cuts, and other rarities) appeared in the interim. Tim Kinsella's songs remain on the introspective side of the aisle; actually, they belong on the existential side, if truth be told. Cousins Tim and Nate, guitarist Sam Zurick, Bobby Burg, Cale Parks, and Ben Vida all work to bring flesh to this skeletal and sinewy collection. This low-key approach is only one side of the Joan of Arc approach, of course, and this attempt at writing is also philosophical -- even if that philosophy is hidden under wraps of the lo-fi jaunty pop found on "Miss Cat Piss and Peppermint," with its speculative guitar and vibes parts set along a steady rocking rhythm that underscores each line in the verses. The ominous cartoon sound of "Living Out in the Sea of Umbrellas" is reminiscent of the drunken Dumbo scene in the Disney film. There are guitars that enter and leave, background sounds that add to the loopy paranoia in the lyrics, and a cello that sounds like an "oompah" tuba. "Scratches a Pencil" is another track that reveals the significant growth Joan of Arc have undergone as a band. Over five minutes, a loosely constructed riff undergoes some true atmospheric and dramatic tension. As the song unfolds so do the instruments, slipping in and out of the mix rhythmically and dynamically. Strings come in to shore up the lyrics that threaten to falter at any moment but continue to plod, and reveal, as if by some unseen force. Eventually, All at Once is a spooky but delightful little record. It's not a magnum opus, but to hear this band throw anger and confrontation to the wind, in order to bring its ever-evolving sound to audiences within a limited soundscape that uses space as a device of craft, lends more authority to Tim Kinsella's words. Well worth hearing a time or ten.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek