Album Review: Joan of Arc – He’s Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands

By Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer
[Joyful Noise; 2017]
Rating: 7.5/10

Key Tracks: “Stranged That Egg Yolk,” “Full Moon and Rainbo Repair,” “F Is For Fake”

Joan of Arc stands with an ironic longevity, given their wide dislike. Their two-decade long career feels unlikely with the menagerie of releases they’ve compiled as well as the oscillating arrangement of band members. It seems strange that Joan of Arc is even still happening. Other projects in the Kinsella family of bands, even despite being more universally liked, haven’t run as far or as haphazardly as Joan of Arc. And it kind of suits the act.

He’s Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands opens with a line that may echo any listener’s thoughts through the record’s entirety: “What the fuuuuuuuuuuuuck?” From the get-go, the experimental tendencies are glaring but digestible. In its subject matter, the album rides a line between vaguely political and obtusely humorous. It’s evident in the allusion to America’s current political climate in the title, but also in verses like “Let’s begin to fight the good fight, and not be swallowed alive by the bottomless pit inside of you” from the opener “Smooshed That Cocoon.”

Throughout the record, instrumentation is noisy and jumbled, but never to a point of inaudibility. It sounds more like a controlled mess, especially in the record’s single, “This Must be the Placenta.” “Stranged That Egg Yolk” is bass driven in a subtle and pleasing way, with calmed vocals to match. Melina Ausikaitis lends her voice to Tim Kinsella’s throughout the new release, each having complementary timbres. The vocals in much of the album are drained ed of their emotion, and one-liners are given in a catchy sing-song rhythm. Upon listening to “New Wave Hippies,” it presents a challenge to clear your head of “I know how the nicest guy in ISIS feels,” be that good or bad or just annoying.

Kinsella has loaded this album with strange lyrical mantras like that in “New Wave Hippies.” It feels like he’s the one at a party of strangers repeating an inclusive joke until the room gets it; Singing “I’m gonna kill the little Hitler in my heart” in “Stranged That Egg Yolk” and then misspelling Chicago repetitiously in “Full Moon and Rainbo Repair” are prime examples. “Ta Ta Terrordome” lays it on heaviest with this format, to the point of near anxiety. Quirks like these are seemingly obnoxious, but in all honesty become funny in their obscurity. Listeners may find themselves laughing in the futility of understanding.

He’s Got the Whole This Land In Your Land in His Hands is weird. It’s experimental rock in both sound and lyrics, and very much true to Joan of Arc’s sound. Including poetry about Phil Collins and a track named after an Orson Welles film, Kinsella is by no means short of oddities on this latest release. It won’t be for everyone, but it’ll appeal to the listeners who roll with the strangeness and embrace experimentation.

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