Justin Vernon
Self Record


4.1
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
March 4th, 2017 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: who's agonised, and gnawed through it all?

Self Record is an album of sharp contradictions. The religiously euphoric "Ring Out" (that's 'ring out' both like a bell and like "the kitchen rags of God", in one of Vernon's cleverest ever moments) follows "Sides", a harrowing story of violence, abuse and a minister's anti-homosexuality prejudice. "Redemption 1" flits around in both tempo and tone, from happy to despondent in pursuit of its muse. Short instrumentals, near-ambient, allow bridges between monoliths like the touching acoustic "Nothing Better Than a Journey to You" or twelve-minute trumpet/guitar dance "We Will Never Die". Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is Justin's voice; the almost complete lack of his now-trademark falsetto leaves us with a soulful, throaty vocal that in many ways is the best of his career. It's not hard to feel the Springsteen influence on the run of soft acoustic songs beginning with "Drinking This Rain": admittedly, this section becomes greatly fatigued by its end, when we arrive at what sounds like a For Emma c-side in "Above the Code".

The most interesting ideas come out in the least Bon Iver-like stretch of the album, starting when Vernon gives his vocal chords a well-earned sabbatical to instead highlight his more unorthodox instrumental choices. "How Many"" sounds like a Beatles chord progression laid over cut-up drums, with only a faint, deep vocal refrain reminding us that Vernon is even present, whilst "Right Down There In Your Tributary" recalls Thrice's Water index with warbling guitars and synthesisers. Album highlight "The Orient and the Gatsby's Slew of Choices" shows Vernon flirting with electronics a full eleven years before he dived in the deep end with 22, A Million. "Orient" comes out on top thanks to the comparative subtlety of its beeping and blooping, as well as perhaps the most beautiful vagueisms that Vernon has penned to date: Sell my car to the moving man. I'm the sea, and you're Japan.

Self Record is the sound of an artist slowly stumbling towards the sound that would make him famous, and doing maybe his best and most honest work in that process. Could be that 'self record' is more than just a confusing way of saying self-titled – I always thought it was a pun on the physical act of recording oneself, or something even more cryptic – but in the end, I can't conceive of a more fitting title for this album than Justin Vernon.



Recent reviews by this author
Weezer The Black AlbumCzarface and Ghostface Killah Czarface Meets Ghostface
Copeland BlushingEmarosa Peach Club
Mac Miller SwimmingPemberton Maybe I'm a friend that stuck around too long.
user ratings (48)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2017


41397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

starting off my "albums that don't already have reviews" series with a hopefully strong'un

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2017


2799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You are the absolute best. I've started a review for this too many times, I'm so, so glad it's been covered now. Of all people, I'm glad it was you. Especially because you recognise the beauty of The Orient and the Gatsby's Slew of Choices. Am I gushing? Well, I love you, great review.

Digging: Angel Du$t - Pretty Buff

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2017


41397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

yes! Orient is in my top 5 Vernon, and Ring Out probably wouldn't be too far off the top 10. it really surprises me how little attention Bon Iver fans pay to these albums, although many may have been turned off by the boringness of Hazeltons - I nearly was

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2017


15032 Comments


Nice, nice. Time for some Bonny Bear.

Digging: Elizabeth Colour Wheel - Nocebo

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2017


2799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ring Out is incredible indeed. Yeah, I'm a bit surprised Hazeltons has more ratings on here. I do like that album, but this is quite a bit more interesting. Even his work with DeYarmond Edison is better than that album.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2017


41397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Song for a Lover of Long Ago is fantastic but the rest of that album honestly puts me to bed

RadicalEd
March 4th 2017


9446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Some incredibly strong songs on this bby. (Ring Out, Sides, Whipgrass) I think Hazelton has more ratings because the Title Track on that album is very good/catchy and has been featured in TV-Shows and Movies.

Digging: Maurice Louca - Elephantine

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2017


2799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I forgot about Whipgrass, that's one of Vernon's best, too. I need to give Hazeltons a listen again. Apart from For Emma, which I hear on a semi-regular basis, of Justin's extended discog I tend to return only to this one and Volcano Choir.

tommygun
March 5th 2017


26847 Comments


nice one rowbro been craving some more natty vernon after that 22 a million shite

congrats on staff too

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2017


41397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

thanks brother, definitely give this one a whirl, some top tier jams



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy