Joan of Arc, led by singer Tim Kinsella are an American indie rock band from Chicago, Illinois. He’s Got The Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands is the title of their latest album and, as the title suggests, not all is well in the American political landscape.
There is a Joycean flourish to the song titles which immediately command your attention and suggest that this is a band that likes the power of the word. ‘Smooshed the Cocoon’ makes judicious use of a sampled heavy driven drum beat over which Kinsella’s discordant vocals drive the song forward. The lolloping circular synth riffing of ‘This Must Be the Placenta’ is pure indie-punk at its best. Heavy bass sets the mood of ‘Stranged That Egg Yolk’, reminiscent of early Public Image Ltd. A melodic chorus takes the listener in a different direction and is complimented by the lyric, “Show me love that you so nobody else”. ‘Full Moon and Rainbo Repair’ is sumptuous in delivery as the music really shines in this quirky little song about love.
‘Cha Cha Chakra’ has a pulsing beat and is all shade and light and highlights that this is a band unafraid to experiment with sound and structure. ‘Grange Hex Stream’ sees that pulse shift to a bass which moves with menace and intent as Kinsella intones “there is no place safe and everything is perfect”, keeping within the dark themes that underlie this collection of songs. Subsonic synth and scratchy guitars are to the fore on ‘Two Toothed Troll’ as guitarist and vocalist Melina Ausikaitis takes the lead vocal. She paints a dark picture of modern day Chicago that is “too vast, too soon, too full of smog, too full of danger for anyone to see at all.”
‘New Wave Hippies’, ‘Never Wintersbone You’ and ‘F is for Fake’ add to the drum, synth and sparse guitar template of that proceeded them with ‘F is for Fake’ a particular highlight. The album finishes on the sound-experiment poem, ‘Ta Ta Terrordome’ whereby Kinsella mixes his love of the word with his love of the sonic soundscape. At times dark, this is an album that, while at times discordant, holds together well.