Joan of Arc, 'Boo! Human' (Polyvinyl)

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Boo! Human
Critical Mass
Label: Polyvinyl

by Shannon Zimmerman

Boo! Human opens with "Shown and Told," a sweetly cerebral homage to Simon & Garfunkel that segues into knowing laughter. But the remainder of the Chicago band's 12th album bears little resemblance to that acoustic gem, trafficking in herky-jerky rhythms ("Just Pack or Unpack"), arch chamber pop ("Insects Don't Eat Bananas"), and romantic laments ("Vine on a Wire"). That far-flung aesthetic might be due to a more sprawling lineup (14 contributors, to be exact), but thanks to frontman Tim Kinsella's pleasantly dispassionate delivery, an ambient coherence permeates the tunes, a quality that's both comforting and numbing.

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