Volcano Choir
Repave


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matt Harrison CONTRIBUTOR (20 Reviews)
August 21st, 2013 | 95 replies


Release Date: 09/03/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Justin Vernon's in the empire business.

Before you scoff at the notion of comparing everyone's favorite middle-aged, meth cooking sociopath to everyone's favorite bearded, flannel-sporting, indie-folk virtuoso -- and it is made with a certain frivolity to be sure -- just consider the sheer amount of work Justin Vernon gets involved with outside Bon Iver. From collaborations with Kanye West, to contributing vocals to The National, to forming entire record labels (e.g. Jagjaguwar and its offshoot, Chigliak), to even producing band's works off of Chigliak such as Amatuer Love's debut, it seems there are few remaining artists in the music scene Vernon hasn't pulled a Heisenberg on and insisted he's the one who knocks on doors (a metaphor for simply approaching other artists, I can only hope). Indeed, the "Sufjan of Soul," as he is affectionately called somewhere -- okay, now I'm just asking for it -- emerged from the woods of Wisconsin in 2008 with Bon Iver's masterpiece For Emma Forever Ago, not to privatize Tunes From A Broken Heart, Inc., but to sell its stock because he had proverbially bigger drug lord turf wars to win.

It seems reasonable then to treat Volcano Choir as any of the other bands Vernon's spirit has manifested should be treated: as something to pay attention to -- and especially after Bon Iver's self-titled. Because unlike Volcano Choir's first effort, Unmap, which existed before Bon Iver's return in 2011, Repave shows an artist who isn't necessarily dragging around the success and expectations of For Emma...; he's proven that Bon Iver can release a record with none of the mythos that surrounded the entity of For Emma, and yet still pull it off, which is exactly what his self-titled did. The songs "Holocene" and "Towers" were Bon Iver's folk-side we've come to fall in love with since the debut, but what truly made self-titled such a worthy successor was its enormity. Whether it was the booming fuzz layered over guitar noodling on "Minnesota" while Vernon crooned "never gonna break, never gonna break, never gonna break," or the momentous 80s-esque ballad "Beth/Rest" exploding in their live shows, the self-titled was a work that didn't need an enchanting story behind it, and Repave is simply the successful continuation of this. Because ultimately what we are given with Repave is a non-Bon Iver album in which we don't care that it is a non-Bon Iver album -- and it's such a beautiful thing.

The opener "Tiderays" hums along with the delicate guitar picking and piano we've come to expect from a Bon Iver release as if continuing right where self-titled left off, and Vernon's vocals are as strong and confident as ever, exploring some of the lowest ranges of his voice yet. "Alaskans" is perhaps best defined as "warm" with Vernon's words echoing gently up and down until they fade out and what sounds like an audio recording of a preacher giving a sermon finishes the track. While these songs stand next to some of Vernon's best work on Bon Iver, however, it's with "Acetate" and "Byegone" that Vernon and his Volcano Choir soar. The two tracks both end with some of the most ambitious climaxes Vernon has ever led, truly making the enormity of sound on Bon Iver's self-titled seem like a hill compared to the sheer Everest that is scaled on Repave.

Clocking in at slightly under 40 minutes, Repave is extremely digestible, and I can only see its replay value going up as the little nuances and lyrics settle in. Furthermore, rather than being another Bon Iver album with a different name, Volcano Choir is a testament that even if Bon Iver's days are over -- and they are on hiatus currently -- we really need not worry. While perhaps lacking some of the soul and vitality of Bon Iver, which arguably is only really a prominent feature of For Emma..., Volcano Choir is just as strong an effort, and from an artist who truly brightens the work of anyone he gets involved with.



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user ratings (199)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
DelPaxtonsTheMan (4)
Justin Vernon channels his inner Seth McFarlane, and creates a gorgeous album in the process....

Jacob Royal STAFF (4.1)
...

RivalSkoomaDealer (3.5)
Shout it. Sing it louder now....

related reviews

Unmap

Comments:Add a Comment 
Calc
August 21st 2013


12294 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gooood album.

Digging: Mr. Oizo - The Church

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Indeed. I love the single "Island, IS" off of Unmap, but otherwise I think this is stronger in every way

ABjordanMM
August 21st 2013


1442 Comments


I'm excited to give this a listen.

Digging: Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's very good, but I'd imagine people who dislike Bon Iver, would also dislike this since they're maybe a bit too similar.

ABjordanMM
August 21st 2013


1442 Comments


Well i have both of bon iver's albums at 5's so i think i'll be fine. lol

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Then yeah you'd probably really dig this too.

PunchforPunch
August 21st 2013


6280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

god i hate bon iver

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


20063 Comments


nice review man have a pos. the whole breaking bad reference is a bit over the top, but i think you already knew that lol

Digging: Trophy Eyes - Mend, Move On

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

should self-titled be italicized in regards to Bon Iver's self-titled? Not sure whether to use it as a pronoun or adjective.

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"the whole breaking bad reference is a bit over the top, but i think you already knew that lol"

haha really I just wanted to use that summary and then realized there was no way to non-jokingly compare him to Walter White so yea, the review is basically only serious starting on the second paragraph.


Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


20063 Comments


no worries, it's well-written so it's all good

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks man! If you want I can pretend it was the random album you were supposed to assign me :p

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


20063 Comments


lol. you can't pin that ALL on me because i tried, but you weren't happy with the albums :/

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha yea, I know. No worries.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


20063 Comments


but don't give up on me yet, i will find you an album....when the time is right

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet. I am anxiously awaiting the reveal of this perfect album.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


20063 Comments


this would be a sweet album to review, but you might want to check with johnnydeking29 because i believe he was originally supposed to review it for the review a random album game.

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/soundoff.php?albumid=28848

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Okay, I'll check it out. Yea, I'll check with him about it

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


20063 Comments


might as well make sure you like it first, but yeah he has dibs if he still wants to review it lol. it's a fantastic album

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2013


1684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"might as well make sure you like it first"

that'd probably be the most important step. agreed. lol



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