Bon Iver
Bon Iver, Bon Iver


4.0
excellent

Review

by Lucid CONTRIBUTOR (17 Reviews)
June 9th, 2011 | 27 replies | 5,161 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is not the sound of a new man.

Bon Iver is a cautious work. It floats just over the surface with unassumingly delicate chords, leaving an open space for Vernon to liberate his falsetto anew. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. As much as debate will continue over the perceived differences between this album and For Emma, the sound hasn’t changed all that much. The songs are still driven by lonesome, pensive moods and Vernon’s elusive vocal melodies. There is a new approach at work though that leaves a distinctly altered impression. On For Emma, there was an ever present sadness underscoring each lyrical phrase, but here, a sense of liberation adds a notable lilt to Vernon’s words. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; the resolution of "re: stacks" directly implied the post-heartbreak sophomore album, but Vernon wisely avoids this cliché by ditching the narrative. There is no back story or overarching lyrical concept tying the loose ends together – just the sweetest, evasive melodies atop a rhythmic backdrop, left to drift away at any moment.

If that doesn’t sound particularly appealing then you might be in for disappointment with this new direction. The lyrics are now demoted to the backboard, leaving the melodies alone to stir and to move. Lucky then that Vernon possesses one of the most effortlessly affecting voices in the indie scene. The removed weight of lyrical meaning grants him space to experiment with his vocals, and although this has the potential to be messy, the control he retains leads to some incredible standouts. “Towers” is wordless in its impact but still deeply expressive, driven by an almost delirious sense of joy. “Michicant” follows with a more reserved take on contentment. The hopeful, swaying melody pulls forward without climaxing, instead dropping out to allow a gorgeous instrumental section to blossom. Moments such as these are achieved without the lyrical backing we are accustomed to, but they are no weaker in their emotional power.

Although the meandering aesthetic of Bon Iver is bound to be derided by some as "timid" and "ambiguous," Vernon’s restraint is rather a symbol of newfound confidence, both artistic and emotional. The finished product involves the input of various musicians - a stark contrast to the isolated songwriting of his debut. He built these songs himself while leaving space for new textures: saxophones, pedal- steel guitars, and horns all make appearances, but do not overpower the natural grasp of Vernon’s compositions. This new instrumentation is welcomed, but unfortunately does not aid in recreating the moments of pure emotional release that defined For Emma. It creates a new feel for the band, but will leave those yearning for resolution vaguely unsatisfied. Despite this shortcoming, Bon Iver is still a success, bypassing the uneasy hump of an altered sound with strengthened songwriting and an intriguing new approach. It will not satisfy everyone, but for those willing to embrace the ambiguity and altered emotional triggers, it can be as impactful or even moreso than Bon Iver’s previous work.



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user ratings (1722)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Jon Day (5)
    Bon Iver's beautiful follow up to For Emma, Forever Ago which sees the band delve into soa...

    Chunky97 (4.5)
    "Bon Iver, Bon Iver" is a beautiful masterpiece, full of wonderful melodies and well-craft...

    JustinVernonBeard (5)
    Beauty, Nature, Passion, and Hope....

    Grant Thomas (5)
    The fuller sound of Bon Iver....

  • garth (5)
    Mr Vernon, you are magnificent....

    doug (4.5)
    Just like a sherbet bomb; sweet on the outer, and brilliant within....

    LudditeStereo (4.5)
    Gorgeous-sounding and elusive, Bon Iver, Bon Iver doesn't have the compelling back story o...

    SowingSeason STAFF (4.5)
    ...

  • Griff Fuller Jr. (4)
    Quiet indie folk rock and soundscaping shape an impressive sophomore album....

    Tom Gellatly (4.5)
    It might not top the (now almost sacred) For Emma, Forever Ago, but Bon Iver's sophomore e...

    J. Ponton EMERITUS (2)
    It’s not a problem that Vernon hasn't created music in the same style of the last succes...

    Cam EMERITUS (4.5)
    Each song acts like a personal journal entry, documenting Justin Vernon’s experience bac...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iamthe Nightstars
June 9th 2011



2187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Clever summary.

mallen-
June 9th 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. Still haven't heard this...

Drsmith4
June 9th 2011



1712 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

killereviewriteupos

Eko
June 10th 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

one of those very succinct and dense reviews pos

jingledeath
June 10th 2011



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

stellar album, cool review

mast3rshake16
June 10th 2011



109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

meh.. 3 paragraph summary

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2011



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fucking sweet review. im impressed, keep it up

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2011



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

woah this review is awesome. you should write more.

starry
June 10th 2011



552 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Oh I agree, it isn't much different to the previous album. Towers maybe has a bit more form to it. But he's still trying to push those 'emotional triggers' as you call them all the time, and while this may appeal to some others may just find they tire of it very quickly. Maybe because it always sounds like the same sweet delicate trigger. When he finds more triggers or alternatively tries to pace the sweet triggers through an album I think his music will change and maybe appeal beyond his present fandom.

RagingStorm
June 10th 2011



509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fantastic review

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2011



7021 Comments


@starry: Yeah, I can see why some people might find his vocals or musical arrangements too deliberately delicate. I'm just a sucker for this sort of thing though so I love it.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Tyrael
June 10th 2011



20740 Comments


Great review. The album was a tad disappointing but that seems to have become a trend for albums in 2011.

AutoRock
June 10th 2011



416 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

stellar review.

STOP SHOUTING!
June 10th 2011



631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice writeup but i agree with starry.

aok
June 10th 2011



4313 Comments


dayum bro -- good stuff. 4600 comments and only 4 reviews though? =/

Chrisjon89
June 10th 2011



3376 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. Concise but good.

I've heard two little snippets of this and I'm looking forward to it. I've successfully resisted the urge to cop the leak just like I did with King of Limbs and I still don't even have that.

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - 0%

BigHans
June 10th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

really good review bro

descendents1
June 10th 2011



702 Comments


This review is excellent, please keep writing. Your length is okay because they're loaded paragraphs. Try to stay away from constantly comparing previous works to the most recent work. It wasn't something I was worried about going into this album (or going into any sophomore effort, or similar), even though it may be a talking point for a couple sentences.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2011



7021 Comments


Thanks for the advice descendents, I'll keep that in mind. I felt it was suitable for this review though but I can see why it won't always work.

garth
June 10th 2011



91 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Really great review.



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