Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver (2011)

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Album opener "Perth" with it's martial drums and swooping brass sets the stage for Justin Vernon's latest venture: a much more loud and grandiose effort than debut For Emma, Forever Ago. "Perth" with its complexity, organic growth, and depth wouldn't be out of place on an Explosions in the Sky CD if not for Vernon's vocals. Bon Iver manages to use the skills Vernon gained from his multitude of other projects and display them without actually replicating anything he's done before. Departing from his creaky, Wisconsin cabin where he recorded For Emma, Bon Iver, Bon Iver is brighter and yet sometimes just as wintery. It continues with Bon Iver's heavenly sense of quiet even with its use of flittery string arrangements, bolstering brass, and electronic hisses and hums.

In waiting awhile to return to Bon Iver, Vernon has essentially ensured that the music remains fresh, sincere, and largely different than his first outing. Sure, the songs still pack their emotional punches but remains staunchly diverse. Bon Iver, Bon Iver is an album that manages to transcend the boundaries of track names and title, with each track cascading into the next with very little warning. It's incredibly easy to put the album on and forget about everything else til it's all over and the dust settles. And that's a skill Vernon has mastered with surprising efficiently. Each track differs from the other and yet remains part of the same grand tapestry that Vernon has woven, held together by an dizzying amount of sonic experimentation and Vernon's always soul-rousing tenor.

Bon Iver is now streaming at both NPR and the NY Times until it's release on 6/21.

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