"A Tell-Tale Penis" by Joan Of Arc
"For Lauri Bird" by Make Believe
After years of blurring the line between his two bands, singer Tim Kinsella seems to have settled on a definition of each: Joan Of Arc is his studio project, and Make Believe is his rock group. He's muddying that border again, though, by taking Joan Of Arc on tour in support of his two new releases, Joan Of Arc's Boo! Human and Make Believe's Going To The Bone Church. That shouldn't come as a surprise to Kinsella's small but devoted fan base. He's long been a puzzling, even gleefully perverse songwriter. Not that there's a hell of a lot of glee in Kinsella's catalogue. Boo! Human is perhaps the angriest record of his career—and, contrarian that he is, he's cloaked bitter barbs in gorgeous, sprawling art-rock. Lush and nauseatingly spacious, Boo! Human is a tough listen that just gets tougher. But the window Kinsella opens into his bruised soul almost reads like a mea culpa, some twisted kind of penitence for two decades of cryptic, evasive lyrics. (It still stays oh-so-slightly cryptic and evasive, of course.)
Going To The Bone Church, in turn, just kinda rocks. But where Boo! Human sounds like an ingrown revenge record, Bone Church does what Make Believe does best—throws a bunch of insanely gifted musicians into a room to fuck off and make noise. As always, guitarist Sam Zurick—Kinsella's constant companion since their tenure in the early-'90s emo pioneer Cap'n Jazz—is offhandedly brilliant, tossing off contorted chords like pretty bows of barbed wire. It isn't Make Believe's best record, but it's sharp and emotionally erratic enough to scrape the palate of Joan Of Arc's astringent abstraction. Throughout both albums, Kinsella sounds like a guy who wants to sing straight from the heart so badly, but he's still awestruck and maybe even a little terrified of that organ pumping behind his breastbone.