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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bon Iver - Bon Iver (a review)

Way back in May, when I first wrote about the building anticipation that I had for the release of Justin Vernon's band, Bon Iver's self-titled second album, I wondered whether it could ever surpass all of my wildest expectations...

Sometimes when a singer or band comes along that you have never heard anything like before and you listen to them... and you feel something so raw, sweet, haunting and brilliant that makes something click for you like For Emma, Forever Ago, and you wonder whether anything could ever match or even better the work of art that is that masterpiece of an album, you wonder whether the long awaited follow-up will be "all that" and you're pleasantly surprised that yes, 3 years wait does pay off and that yes, Justin Vernon is without a doubt a talented artist.

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

1. Perth
2. Minnesota, Wi
3. Holocene
4. Towers
5. Michicant
6. Hinnom, Tx
7. Wash.
8. Calgary
9. Lisbon, Oh
10. Beth/Rest

"The process wasn't that unlike the first album... it's just that we decided to make it sound a little denser and sort-of a little less achy and empty...we wanted it to be full" 

Purposely stepping away from where For Emma, Forever Ago left off, Vernon shows off his versatility as a musician whilst still utilising his ability to weave beautiful stories around his melodies. Vernon has been heralded as a brilliant lyricist however some can argue that his lyrics are vague and don't mean much

"I don't know what the songs are about really... the songs sort-of reveal themselves I guess... they just kind of meld together as we go along... on this record you don't need to hear them or understand them (the lyrics) to get the feeling"

The idea is to weave a meaning for yourself.

The album starts with "Perth" named after Western Australia's capital city. Vernon states that "the song and the way it sounds and where Perth is, it's like the world's most isolated capital city, I think that spoke to me... the whole record starts in Perth. Perth can be the beginning of stuff, and for me Perth is like birth in this record - the whole chaotic aspect of being born and how messy it is, I guess." 
With it's haunting and eerie drum beats and searing hook "still alive who you love", Perth is an unforgettable and brilliant introduction to the luscious journey that lies ahead.

Calgary. "Calgary is more about longing for a place you've never been or someone from a place that you've never been..." The first single released off the album was a delicious teaser as to what lay ahead for eager listeners. An instantly likeable track with the familiar achy and urgent strains of Justin's voice guiding us through a story with infinite possibilities in regards to interpretation of the lyrics.

And finally, Beth/Rest.

The juxtaposition of sound that Vernon has created from the Birth (Perth) to the Rest (Beth/Rest) is extremely brave and interesting, the 80s vibe is one that takes a few listens to get used to but is a destination well worth the journey which the album takes you on to get to. It is the letting go of things he attributes to being able to write this song - one unlike anything he had ever written before and he states that "just like Perth is the beginning of things, Beth/Rest is a place where you rest... it comes to a place and you just sort-of let go..." 

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