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Joan of Arc | How Can Any Thing So Little Be Any More (Jade Tree)
Serving as an epilogue to a four album career, this lengthily titled eight tracker was pieced together from the remnants of The Gap, their 'difficult' but relatively successful last album proper. Opener Leaving Needn't Take Long has little reason to exist, being a short ambient noodle that sounds like any band anywhere plugging in. The delicate piano that introduces Ne Mosquitoes Pass is soon overthrown by an embarrassing opening couplet from 'singer' Tim Kinsellas - "Young woman praise the suffering toilet brush and ice bucket / Where are you now? How long is your hair?" - a similar fate befalling the otherwise tuneful remainder, while Kinsellas' repeated maxim "Fucking strangers feels better" might deserve half a line in the first draft of a Bright Eyes b-side. The kid singing We Neither Hide Nor Seek is cute for ten seconds but like much of the record outstays its welcome. The exception is Most at Home in Motels, which, despite their best intentions, survives any attempts to be disrupted. Sounds like they were embarrassed to have created something beautiful. My Cause Is Noble and Just has the intimacy of a recording made with the performer unawares, Kinsellas alone with an acoustic guitar just throwing words out there seeing what'll stick. Few do but it's a fair attempt and more rewarding than either the wall of noise (My Fight Is Necessary) or stumbling drunk waffle of What If We Are Not After All, All Destined for Greatness? Closing as inconsequentially as it opened with an uninspired instrumental, and a coda seeing the return of those pesky kids, Joan of Arc's farewell sounds like so much unfinished business.

Matt Dornan
June-July 2001