Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Done with the young and hungry rat-race of band-life, Joan of Arc now exists at the pace their real lives allow. By combining one week of studio time, a stack of songs and a sign-up sheet allowing participants to drop in whenever they could, each track on Boo Human is as wildly different and uniquely constructed as the groups who produced them. The combination of 14 musicians whose previous collaborations include Wilco, Iron & Wine, Bonnie Prince Billy, Beth Orton, and Prefuse 73 yields a truly diverse record that is as intense as it is intimate. Marked by intricate guitar melodies, non cognitive wailing and tense instrumentals, Boo Human is Joan of Arc's most accessible, cohesive album since 1997's How Memory Works. From the additively syncopated 'Laughter Reflected Back' to the unignorable, poetic '9/11 2,' Joan of Arc truly proves that doing it their way is the right way.
Spin (p.98) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hanks to frontman Tim Kinsella's pleasantly dispassionate delivery, an ambient coherence permeates the tunes..."
Alternative Press (p.131) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here are some astoundingly creative studio flourishes that aid in filling out the band's aggressive, folk-y style of songwriting."
CMJ - "[E]ach radically new, but strangely familiar, track encompasses the quietly wild side of the Chicago outfit's nonchalant avant-garde post-punk."
Personnel: Tim Kinsella (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Ben Vida (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer); Emmett Kelly (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Todd Mattei (electric guitar, piano); Leroy Bach (electric guitar, organ); Liz Payne (viola); Bobby Burg (piano, organ, synthesizer, drums, percussion); Paul Koob (piano, organ, congas, percussion); Joshua Abrams (upright bass, electric bass); Sam Zurick (electric bass); Mike Kinsella (drums).
Audio Mixer: Graeme Gibson.
Recording information: 4 Deuces (01/2008); Clava, Chicago, IL (01/2008).
Photographer: Chris Strong.
Unknown Contributor Role: Tim Kinsella.
Chicago's willfully difficult Joan of Arc, the genre-bending guardians of the avant-garde, have made a career out of defying expectations. With albums that fluctuate between warm, accessible acoustics and impenetrable electronic textures and industrial percussion, the band's leader and lone constant, Tim Kinsella, has gone out of his way to make Joan of Arc's sound impossible to pin down. Their latest, BOO HUMAN, finds a happy medium between hard art and recognizable, accomplished songcraft, however. Opener "Shown and Told" is wispy, delicate acoustic folk with moaning vocals, leading in to "Laughter Reflected Back" with its shimmering keyboards and stuttering polyrhythm. Elsewhere, "9/11 2" unleashes raw, emotional voices, discordant organs, and tense strings, while "Insects Don't Eat Bananas" tweaks '60s girl-group drums and chimes. No matter what personnel Kinsella employs or the variety of musical angles, the intimate, mysterious songs on BOO HUMAN remain distinctly Joan of Arc.