Joan of Arc
Live In Chicago, 1999
It takes a while for me to properly digest a new Joan of Arc record. I’ve got to get used to all the new quirky quirks involved. I see this as a good thing — it means they’re not getting stale, but continuing to push things farther. Eccentric and downright strange at times, it’s all masterfully done. Some of it can be straightforward, such as “If It Feels/Good, Do It” with its sweet pop melodies — a little oddly shaped but sweet nonetheless, and with great use of a trumpet. That’s followed by the title track, consisting of manic, busy drums cut out by the occasional quiet breathy, off singing into what sounds like a hand-held tape recorder. Odd, yes, but it’s also the song that most won’t get out of my head. Experimentation runs amuck on this record, but it all turns out magnificently, resulting in an amazing divergent pop record, owing a lot to indie, emo, jazz, and a playful spirit. Guests are invited, guitars are plucked and picked, structures are climbed through and around, words are played with and carefully chosen, sound is layered, and the tapestry of sound is presented, brightly colored, richly textured. Joan of Arc are an increasingly vital band and this is their best record to date.
Oh yes, and it’s not a “live” record. Full use of the studio was employed, sans audience.
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