Bon Iver – Bon Iver album review

Bon Iver’s success came with his debut release For Emma, Forever Ago – an album inspired by a lost love and a split from his prog-folk band DeYarmond Edison. With the arresting falsetto debut, recorded in a wilderness hunting cabin retreat of Wisconsin, front man Justin Vernon had already begun his success story.

Then Kanye West wanted a piece of the compelling Justin Vernon. Singing and co-writing, Vernon played a significant role on West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy release. But this time Bon Iver is back with an eponymous album, also cut in an unconventional location – a transformed swimming pool attached to a veterinarian’s office.

Three years later returning with the same characteristic soulful falsetto yet more intoxicating and intricately arranged and less monomaniacal. The adroit creativity of this talented musician shines in a novel context, taking a different outlook on writing after he stated he “forgot how to write songs”.

Although, Bon Iver isn’t entirely new ground for Justin Vernon. The traces of its enthralling predecessor can still be perceived – the pensive and grief-stricken aspects.

The songs are styled after real or conceived isolated towns where hearts are uncovered in improbable comparisons. “Hinnom, TX”, the mood piece with splashes of horns and static harmonies, and “Minnesota, WI” an amalgamation of banjos and acoustic guitars laid out over a swelling bass and dampened saxophone – bringing to mind TV On The Radio.

The catch is Vernon’s dexterity in his falsetto voice processing. Auto-Tune and other devices allow the emotions to be magnified and elaborated and not just perfect them. West even stating that this method establishes Vernon as one of our era’s determined singers.

The glitter of horns by Colin Stetson and the graceful arrangements by Rob Moose make up the concepts on Bon Iver. They entice the listener even if they aren’t means to an end. The music on Bon Iver is magical even if it comes close to being mawkish at times as in “Beth/Rest”. The saccharine track could easily sneak itself on a Phil Collins album and sees the welcome return of Vernon’s Auto-Tune.

Producing beautiful music is just the surface of this talented bearded indie rocker with fervor for rustic roots music. A creative machine at heart, Vernon’s just getting fired up!

By Sean Carlin

When Sean is not caught daydreaming of a luxurious beachfront life in California, he can be seen saving lives in his free time - by a pool, that is! With a love for writing and music at a tender age, Sean's unique tastes in novels and music far surpassed those of his peers. Only diversified interests in big screen releases - movies of various genres, rivaled these passions. Sean's calm nature, yet quick wit, and love of impromptu comebacks allow him to easily become a part of many social circles. Those who know him best appreciate his loyalty. Academic interests and pursuits in the field of psychology round out the picture of this individual's profile!

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