Joan of Arc

How Can Anything So Little Be Any More?

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Joan of Arc's fifth record in as many years nearly accomplishes the impossible and overshadows the awful pomposity of their last release with even more pretension. The eight tracks included were left over from the extensive sessions that produced last year's expansive but wandering The Gap, and are, for the most part, difficult to stomach. It doesn't help that only half of the songs are even classifiable as songs, and the other four tracks are either ambient noise swells or children singing. Children singing in bad voices with weird nonsensical lyrics in fact. On a positive note, this posthumous release from the Chicago experimentalists does include some pretty good songs. Convulsive crooner Tim Kinsella sings about as well as he ever did, throwing away most of his twitchy phrasings for straightforward readings of his heavy-handed, double entendre-laden phrasings. Lyrics like "Jesus was so god...damn pretentious" show him still trying to make a point of some sort and ruffle feathers, but any honesty or emotion he manages to expose is quickly destroyed by the record's hard-to-follow sequencing and those awful kids singing. The band does sounds great, and this record is much more reminiscent of their earlier and more relaxed acoustic-tinged music. For those who enjoyed the music made by Joan of Arc in their short career, this may be a nice farewell but, for those who were ever even a bit put off by the group, don't bother.

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