Published Jan 18, 2017Depending on the listener, it's either nice or frustrating to see that after 20 years and 17 albums, Joan of Arc haven't changed a bit.
When the Chicago band released their debut LP, A Portable Model Of… in 1997, the band received mixed reviews for their use of unusual song structures, quirky melodies and their un-emo use of electronics, but over two decades, they amassed a diehard following, making just gentle variations on their sound. On the very Joan of Arc-titled He's Got the Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands, their first full-length in four years, the quartet have seemed to relax their manic style of songwriting in favour of something more ethereal (well, ethereal for them).
Joined by new guitarist and background vocalist Melina Ausikaitis (who guested on their last LP, Testimonium Songs), Joan of Arc's latest takes the band's blend of angular and obtuse avant-emo and adds an even healthier serving of atmospherics and melody. The resulting 11 tracks find Joan of Arc doling out some of their most moody work to date, expertly demonstrated on tracks like the cool, polyrhythmic "Stranged That Egg Yolk," the minor key piano-aided "Cha Cha Cha Chakra" and the spacious Ausikaitis-featuring "Never Wintersbone You."
Bandleader Tim Kinsella still seems to know how to work with dynamics though, as evidenced on chaotic opener "Smooshed That Cocoon," the classic shouter "This Must Be the Placenta" and spoken word, jazzy closer "Ta-ta Terrordome." He's Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands is a minor gem in the Joan of Arc discography, as Kinsella gives listeners more simply by pulling back. (Joyful Noise)