End of an era
Farewell albums are hard to pull off. But on Tim Melina Theo Bobby, longtime indie rock pioneers Joan of Arc stick the landing with a fitting combination of experimentation, crossover appeal and nostalgia.
Joan of Arc has continually and fearlessly evolved over the past 25 years–and 24 studio albums–in both its music and composition. Founder and lead singer Tim Kinsella has stood resolute throughout the years, the only permanent member amongst a myriad of short-term partners and ambitious, often drastic genre shifts. Tim Melina Theo Bobby is named for Joan of Arc’s current and final lineup: Tim Kinsella, Melina Ausikaitis, Theo Katsaounis and Bobby Burg. The resulting album is an appropriately diverse amalgam of the band’s various stages, blending Joan of Arc’s emo roots with alternative, indie and experimental rock influences. Accordingly, Tim Melina Theo Bobby is an exemplary, highly personal bookend for Joan of Arc’s storied career.
The album starts off reflectively with the peaceful “Destiny Revision.” According to Kinsella, “[It’s] a personal song when it was written a couple years ago, about winging it when your life fails to play out as you’d imagined.” Amidst political and pandemic-induced chaos alike, the song’s uplifting lyrics and downtempo, stripped back instrumentals evoke thoughtfulness and serenity. Similarly, “Karma Repair Kit” is a timeless slice of indie rock. Between its wistful vocals, soothing acoustic guitar and minimal but tastefully up-tempo percussion, “Karma Repair Kit” is an instant classic.
Of course, Tim Melina Theo Bobby wouldn’t be a Joan of Arc album without its fair share of experimentation. Featuring Ausikaitis’ confidently weird vocals, “Something Kind” shifts back and forth from understated, nebulous indie vibes to bombastic, distorted guitar riffs on a dime. And later, “Land Surveyor” and “Dawn of Something” forego vocals entirely. While “Land Surveyor” elevates a simple synth melody with steady, groovy bass and syncopated drums, “Dawn of Something” utilizes comparable elements to construct a vivid, slow-building desert rock ambiance. Tim Melina Theo Bobby then takes an unexpected turn on “Feedback 3/4,” an atmospheric, techno-infused alternative track that showcases Ausikaitis’ vocal versatility.
Impressively, Joan of Arc’s final album manages to break new ground while succinctly saying goodbye. Tim Melina Theo Bobby adds standouts like “Karma Repair Kit,” “Destiny Revision” and “Something Kind” to the band’s colossal lexicon, yet also serves as a thematically satisfying conclusion to Joan of Arc’s story. Unlike the historical figure of the same name, Joan of Arc appears right on track for a happy ending.