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Bon Iver's Bon Iver, Bon Iver - A Short Review

Updated on September 14, 2011

A, A Short, Short Review, Review

I am pretty sure that if you say Bon Iver three times in front of a mirror, the band will show up in your bathroom to play a quick tune, only to disappear without a trace a few minutes later. At least that is what happened to me with the song “Wash”. Maybe they were trying to tell me something.

Anyway, so spending a lot of time in the bathroom isn’t a bad thing. The questionable sounds coming out of the bathroom is the giveaway, this album does not sound like crap. On the contrary, imagine God in your bathroom early in the morning, getting ready for work. You would hear soft, reverbed melodies backing God’s impression of Justin Vernon’s sweet falsetto. This surely is not the best album I have heard in my life (although God is said to be perfect), this album is very good. By referring to them appearing in your bathroom only to disappear quickly, I am not exactly saying that I am predicting Bon Iver to be a one-hit-album-wonder, I think.

Although this is not better than Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, it has its astounding peaks and semi-lackluster valleys. The lackluster could be from the fact that this new album was made in a studio versus For Emma being made while Vernon was sick and stayed isolated in his father’s cabin during the winter months in Wisconsin, coming up with and recording the entire album on his own.

Moving on to the album, the opener to this work is “Perth”, a clean, lightly reverb guitar sequence with building vocals and a striding, rolling snare. At the peak of this song, it explodes with horns, distorted guitars and takes the song to a wonderful crescendo that you do not expect. Once this song flowed through your ears, you thought you were in for a treat with this album.

Then, a primarily instrumental track walks up to you and you try not to be rude by telling it to its face that it is a little boring in the beginning but by the time that you make the decision that you will confront them, Justin starts to sing “never going to break.” The banjo begins with the saxophone and then distorted guitars and suddenly “Minnesota, WI” becomes your favorite tune on the album. It feels as if the record likes to surprise you often and often it will.

Right when you expect a shocker, the song “Holocene” shows up. Amazing. This is what you expect from a Bon Iver album, beautiful layered guitars and Justin’s singing “I can see for miles, miles, miles” calmly as if he is a close friend apologizing “someway ... it’s part of me, apart from me.” I tell you what. Do yourself a favor and look up the lyrics to this album and to For Emma, Forever Ago. I have not seen a band or songwriter put to paper lyrics like this.

As for the next song, “Michicant”, it is a ¾ time signature piece that I feel that the luster that started with beginning of the album started to come off a little. I noticed that two slow songs in a row probably is never a good idea. Although, I enjoy this song, it truly belongs somewhere else on this album. The lack of surprises once again continues with “Hinnom, TX” and continues on with “Wash” and “Calgary”, where it is still slow but sonically, much better songs. It seems they started anew with the first few songs and then reverted back to their old For Emma-style in the middle five songs of the album.

The second-to-last song, “Lisbon, OH”, is another slow instrumental song. As you already know, from what I have written so far, I am not too excited with this. Finally, “Beth/Rest” comes on. I wonder if this song was meant for this album. What in the world? It sounds like its straight from the 80s, something straight from Don Henley but with more e-piano. Yikes, I am worried here. Given, I do enjoy 80s throwback but this song did not fit at all. It stuck out so bad that I wonder if there was a mistake here in my digital purchase download.

For the most part, I enjoyed this album. I feel that if the final 7 or songs were in line with the beginning of the album’s formula, this would be an outstanding ground breaking album. Alas, the formula was there with Vernon’s eerie voice and exceptional lyric writing but it did still fall a little short in my eyes. No really, what is with that last song?


Bon Iver

Bon Iver
Bon Iver

Compact Disc



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