Life Like is Joan of Arc distilled down to/embracing its rock essence.
Gone from the band’s music (for now) are the electronics and layers upon layers of tracks. Gone from their liner notes are an extensive list of musicians and instruments.
After recording October's two-song Meaningful Work 7" as a trio, frontman Tim Kinsella, drummer Theo Katsaounis, and bassist Bobby Burg (Love of Everything, Vacations, Chin Up Chin Up) welcomed guitarist Victor Villarreal (Owls, Cap'n Jazz, Ghosts and Vodka) into the fold shortly before leaving on a month-and-a-half tour of the U.S. and Europe.
Friends since childhood, Villarreal and Kinsella re-connected during Cap'n Jazz's reunion tour and this marks the first collaboration between them since the 2001 self-titled Owls album.
After years of being away from music, being on tour with Cap’n Jazz renewed Villarreal’s enthusiasm for joining a new band. As such, this new chapter in his musical career became one for Joan of Arc as well.
After playing 20 concerts in 20 days on European soil, the band returned home on a Tuesday night and then on Thursday morning - before the jet lag could even wear off - entered Chicago’s Electrical Audio with Steve Albini (who has previously engineered records for two other Kinsella projects: Owls and Make Believe).
Five days later they emerged with Life Like.
Although thoroughly exhausting, this hectic schedule was actually beneficial -- as Kinsella reveals "it removed all threats of cleverness from our critical faculties" and required the band to stick to strictly recording the new tracks as they had been played live.
And yet, as Life Like proves, even when they're working solely with the basics - guitar, bass, and drums - Joan of Arc still has the power to wring new sounds from the same old rock band machinery.
Under The Radar
Tracks sparkle and chime with instrumental fire and unhinged vocal performances, the songs twisting and turning unexpectedly, and ultimately satisfying on repeated listens.
It's possibly the band's most poignant work to date.
Drowned in Sound
Angular, spidery guitar parts in awkward tunings come courtesy of Victor Villarreal, aka one of the best guitarists of the last 20 years.
Even stripped to the standard setup of drums, bass, guitar, and vocals, Joan of Arc still spin out dizzying, dazzling displays of contortionist musicianship...
The Line of Best FitThe songs surge forward breathlessly, while also remaining taut, roiling expressions of the band’s propulsive drive.