Jade Tree - 2003 - 53 minutes

Chicago's Joan of Arc have never made two albums that sound the same and anyone who has ever spent time with any of them will never hear the same thing twice. Here is an outfit who once delivered 'I'm Certainly Not Pleased With My Options for the Future' which had the tiniest piece of guitar and mainman Tim Kinsella just telling listeners "I've got this idea for a song… it will just be me explaining what the song will be like".

At first, 'So Much Staying Alive...' sounds too disjointed but with enough ideas on each track for five songs, the musicianship will eventually bring you 'round. The awkward time changes and the jams, which take place behind Kinsella's tender voice, make them a challenge for the likes of Tortoise and free jazz fans to keep coming back to - even if the line between study and enjoyment is pretty blurred.

Afterwards you'll think that Kinsella could write a really great smart, pop album. But maybe that would be too easy.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: On a Bedsheet in the Breeze on the Roof - The Infinite Blessed Yes - Perfect Need and Perfect Completion - Olivia Lost - Dianne Cool and Beautiful - Mr Participation Billy - Mean to March - Hello Goodnight Good Morning Goodbye - Dead Together - Madeleine Laughing - Staying Alive and Lovelessness