Joan of Arc – Life Like Joan of Arc – Life Like


I saw Joan of Arc once, sometime in the late nineties. They opened for Chan Marshall and Girls Against Boys and played what I could only refer to as anti-show. I don’t know if it was their sole intent to alienate anyone foolish enough to catch the first name on the bill or if they just couldn’t get their shit together but what few notes and chords and whispers they uttered were so dissonant and disheartening that I finished half a pack of smokes by they time their set was over and only managed to not pick a fight with the angry, young Cat Power fan by assuring myself that a band like that would NEVER put out a record.

To date, they’ve put out 15 full lengths, 8 singles and/or EPs and a ridiculously epic cassette box set.

So either I’m a dick or the world is full of idiots.

Let’s look at the history.

Tim Kinsella, Joan of Arc’s voice and sole consistent architect (have they ever had a repeating lineup?), was either in or heavily influenced pretty much every goddamn band even loosely tied to the labels (whether appropriate or reviled) “emo”, “screamo”, “indie” or “punk” (but not the leather kind…you can blame Tim Armstrong for that) you or your little brother ever discovered on your own from 1994 until the Rapture finally comes.

Cap’n Jazz, Make Believe, Owls, Sky Corvair…Tim Kinsella. Let’s not even start on the bands named after his songs.

His tenor is unmistakable: rasping trebly belts of abstract confessions. His guitar is an unerringly insistent jangle of melody that only ever mostly makes sense unless you’re talking about the oeuvre of Joan of Arc which is alternately a profound exploration of dada-pop possibility, a wretchedly spare electric finger in the Third Mind or a condescending inside joke you wouldn’t get because you weren’t there you fucking poser.

So yeah. I don’t really know what the fuck to say about Life Like or the current incarnation of Joan of Arc, in general. I’ve read that this is some obtuse return to emotive form but the more I delve into the Joan of Arc pantheon, the more I feel like I’m on some Pynchonesque quest to discover the greedy midget behind Steve Albini’s guilty redlight jazz.


But he exists, goddamnit. I know he does. He must or this record would just fall right the fuck into itself with such force that all of rock would form a rogue black hole and all we’d hear in the spaghettification of sound would be those solos that wrench the bounds of comfortable logic no matter what fucking context you give them.

I think I’m freaking out.

I am freaking out.

I turned to headphones to better experience this record and now I’m naked save for my work boots and it’s not sexy at all. Maybe it is. I feel fat. I think Tim Kinsella hates me. I think Tim Kinsella probably hates you too but he’s too mad at recognizable song structure to really lash out appropriately. Maybe I’m Jesus. Maybe Tim’s the fucking devil. “Life Force” is a pretty song but it only last a minute. I liked “I Saw the Messed Binds of My Generation” until I realized it was just one eleven-minute song and its reference to Howl killed what last fondness I had for every Beat who wasn’t William S. Burroughs.

What the shit?

I enjoyed this record yesterday. There seemed to be some sorta songs then. Maybe they still exist and I just have to go back searching. Maybe I was wrong the first time. Is this all a trick? I am Jesus.


1. I Saw the Messed Binds of My Generation
2. Love Life
3. Like Minded
4. Life Force
5. Night Life Style
6. Howdy Pardoner
7. Still Life
8. Deep State
9. After Life

Joan of Arc - Life Like, reviewed by Charles on 2011-05-19T08:58:34-07:00 rating 3.2 out of 5

One Response about “Joan of Arc – Life Like”

  • Steve Albini says:

    Where does the review of the album start? You’re a douche bag, you’re funny, we get it. After that part, a review is often helpful, on a review site. Usually.