Label: Polyvinyl Released: 9th June 2009 Website: http://www.joanfrc.com/joanofarc.html Buy: Amazon On June 9th, Joan Of Arc are set to release their 10th record, Flowers. Their previous record Boo! Human came out just a year ago so it was a pleasant surprise to hear that another was being released so soon afterwards. Then again, Joan Of Arc fans never have to wait too long for some fresh material. Tim Kinsella (the only consistent member of the group) has been releasing new and maturing albums almost every year since the late 90’s. I’ve loved everything either of the Kinsella brothers has ever touched, and with each new release a small part of me dreads that it’s going to be the one that finally disappoints me. This is yet to happen Flowers is another satisfying notch on the Kinsella bedpost. For the hardened fans, Flowers may seem tame in comparison to previous albums. Initially, the songs are more stripped down and electronic/piano-based, which deviates from the typical mathy guitar-driven sound that the Kinsella brothers have become most associated with. Tim said himself that before they even started recording, “Flowers would have to be a little cooler and more formal." Flowersopens with an electronic riff reminiscent of something you’d find on a Mates Of State album. It’s a good introduction and sets up the kind of song structure Kinsella seems to be toying with on this album: building on simple but catchy riffs with crisp, gritty guitar licks and somewhat ethereal vocals. My favourite track on the album is 'Garden Of Cartoon Exclamations', which starts off as a very basic piano riff with harrowing vocals echoing in the background. Kinsella’s voice on this track echoes through your bones like a house full of singing ghosts calling you to join them. 3 minutes in, two distorted guitars kick in, which add that extra Kinsella-kick that was lacking throughout the rest of the song. With lines such as “each breath is her signature” and “kittens named kitler”, I think it’s the most lyrically strong and interesting song on the album, and recalls Tim’s unique song writing capabilities to those who may have forgotten. I think what’s most notable about this album is the way Kinsella has a knack for capturing a certain feeling or mood perfectly within the music and especially the lyrics, which drop off his tongue all staccato and off-beat. He manages to pin everything down, suck it up, and spit it back out so that it encapsulates something raw, powerful, and complete. What’s even more interesting is that each track provokes a different mood. The first six tracks are fairly different from one another, which makes the album both interesting and exciting to listen to, however, the latter half of the album tends to get a bit samey and reminiscent of previous Joan Of Arc material, which is maybe not so refreshing. Tracks such as 'Table of the Laments' and 'Fable of the Elements' seem to be lacking in the streak of originality that makes Joan Of Arc so captivating to listen to. That being said, all the songs flow into one another extremely well and as a whole the album seems to work well this way. Although it leans more towards an ambient direction, if you’re already a Joan Of Arc fan this album will do more than curb your appetite for new material. But if you’re unfamiliar with their stuff, this perhaps isn’t the best place to start. Rating: 8/10 MP3: Joan Of Arc - Explain Yourselves #2