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This review was first published on CLUAS in 2001
Other albums reviewed in 2001

Joan of Arse

A review of their album 'Distant hearts, a little closer'

Much of the attention fixed on Joan of Arse of late has centred on the fact that 'Distant hearts...' has been produced at Electric Audio in Chicago by the legendary Steve Albini. Equal in relevance though has been the upgrade to a four piece since previous full-length outing 'Lost at Sea'. The meticulous yet simplistic production template laid by Albini provides the perfect forum for the music, only seven songs long but weighing in at a hefty 45 mins.

Cover of Joan of Arse album 'Distant hearts, a little closer'The album kicks off with two songs depicting people we all know: 'The slaves are in the gallery, sharpening their oars' on which Joan of Arse members trade catchy, immediate vocals. Next is the instantly impressive 'Things Asleep in the Sun', in which the character unfortunately deserves the lyrics 'evolution saw him sleeping, and decided it was best... just not to wake him.' Throughout the album we visit various co-ordinates on the emotional spectrum (rigours of 9-5, love, loss, frustration etc.) before arriving at the comforting 'Watching Films with the Sound Down'.

A couple of songs are itching to transpose to the live medium; the slow build to 'rock out' nature of 'Was Christ Amongst us that night' (including nice piano and erm...saw-bow!) and 'At the feet of St. Peter'. Whilst the other two songs don't quite reach the heights of the rest mentioned, overall 'Distant Hearts, A Little Closer' is one of the better releases of the year so far. In the same fashion as middle age spread, 'The Arse' just got bigger.

Mark Jenkins

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