Joan Of Arc - Joan Of Arc
Record Label: Joyful Noise Recordings
Release Date: November 27, 2012
When kids today think of emo, they probably associate it with one of two things. Firstly, the mislabeled pop rock bands such My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and their peers, the guys with eyeliner that tend to get an unfair hand of it from the general musical public. In this situation, emo is normally a derogatory term and this labeling is much contested. The second stream of thought, is of bands such as Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) and the recent emergence of twinkle daddies. Now, leaving arguments about the ‘real meaning’ to the side for a while, as anyone who has frequented the music forum for the more than a couple of moments is aware of, once upon a time, emo meant bands like Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate and, of course, Cap’n Jazz. However, they were all back in the 90s and it’s been a long time since the surname Kinsella has been synonymous with emo music. This doesn’t mean the brothers have disappeared, though and Tim Kinsella is as prolific as ever before. His band Joan Of Arc are still going at it hammer and nails, and this self-titled LP is their third album in less than two years.
Whilst previous releases from Joan Of Arc may have been more experimental, or slightly more eclectic, Joan Of Arc is entirely acoustic. Aside from one drum beat in the second track, there is nothing to be heard on this record apart from an acoustic guitar and Kinsella’s slightly off-kilter vocals. On opener “Stamina”, this combination works perfectly. Kinsella’s vocals are suitably tender and the track has a tired, frustrated feel to it. Tired lyrics such as “All we talk about is money/ And how we’re tired all the time” complement the sparse instrumentation perfectly. “John Merrick Song”, sung from the point of view of the “Elephant Man”, is heartbreaking. The simplistic guitar teamed with lyrics about hoping someone who's blind will fall in love with him are both sweet and utterly painful. Kinsella’s vocal tone, somewhat bored sounding, are at odds with his overly emotional lyrical topics.
However, Joan Of Arc somewhat eats itself. The release, structured mainly for those who purchase the album on vinyl, is just incredibly awkward and top heavy. The idea is that first six, fairly short tracks of the release are for side one and track seven, a fifteen minute magnum opus, is side two. However, that seventh track, “Chaplinesque” is certainly not strong enough to be the centre of any album. Fifteen minutes of somewhat bland acoustic guitar does not constitute half of an album, or a song, even if you are an emo legend. I couldn’t care less that it’s five acoustic guitars playing the same thing simultaneously, it’s five guitars playing boring music at the same time. Watching five walls of paint dry simultaneously, wouldn’t make the act any more exciting. It’s pretentious and, excuse my lack of eloquence, just plain silly. All the track does is undermine its predecessors in the record, and it underlines how the release is a little bit boring.
So, overall, this is not an essential Joan Of Arc release. Whilst musically speaking, the first few tracks of the release are pleasant, everything is undermined by the last half. If this record was cut back and put out as an EP, a stop gap between releases, the lack of effort that appears to have been put into it would be more acceptable, however a band of Joan Of Arc’s longevity and apparent musical skill just shouldn’t be putting out full length albums as uninspired as this. This is very much art for art’s sake.